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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2003 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Congress plays soft-Hindutva in Karnataka 

Bababudangiri shrine, a place of worship according to sufi traditions, has been the object of frequent attacks by the Sangh Parivar in an attempt to communalise the political climate of Karnataka.

Last year, the Bababudangiri Souharda Vedike (BSV) was formed as a platform to uphold communal harmony in Karnataka, to save the Bababudangir shrine from Hindutva attack.

Each year, in December, the Sangh Parivar organises Datta Jayanthi celebrations which unleashes communal frenzy in the town of Chikmagalur - a step in their plans to 'liberate' the Sufi shrine. Last year, Pravin Togadia and this year Ananth Kumar, the president of Karnataka BJP, declared that Bababudangiri is the "Ayodhya of the south' - a clear statement of their communal intentions.

This year the BSV had demanded that the Karnataka government should ban the Shobhayatra and the public meetings in Chikmagalur and Bababudangiri organised by the Sangh Parivar on 7th & 8th December. The state government rejected the demand.

The BSV had announded that on the same days (7th & 8th), it will hold parallel programmes in Chikmagalur to protest against the Sangh Parivar's plans regarding Bababudangiri. While the government gave permission to the Sangh Parivar, it refused to give permission to the BSV programme. On 6 December the government started making preventive arrests of key activists of the BSV. Next day, 7 December, around 500 activists reached Chikmagalur, evading strict police vigil. Many hundreds, including Girish Karnad, were stopped on their way to the town. After the activists reached the venue of the protest meeting, all the 500 people who had gathered there were formally arrested by the police and now lodged in a jail near Chikmagalur... So much for Congress’s secular credentials.

See also, The Bababudangir issue

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