Bhatkal: The Muslim population of the Uttara Kannada district has come together and called for a Bandh on Saturday, February 5, 2016, protesting against the recent statements by the BJP MP Ananth Kumar Hegde in which he implied that to end terrorism, Islam should be finished off.
Although the Bandh was total in the district, including towns such as Sirsi, Haliyal, Dandeli, Siddapur and Mundgod, it’s biggest impact, however, was felt in Bhatkal as it has a larger Muslim population. The whole town was shut down as Business establishments owned by Muslims, educational institutes and other daily activities were halted. Even the ever-bustling fish market wore a deserted look. Some non-Muslims also supported the Bandh to protest against Hegde’s hate speech. The Bandh was also supported in the neighboring district of Udupi, in the areas of Kandloor, Shiroor and Gangoli.
The Bandh was organised by Majlis e Islah wa Tanzeem, an NGO which enjoys massive support in the whole district for its humanitarian and social activities. Urging the people to support the Bandh, Tanzeem’s general secretary Altaf Kharuri also asked the people to maintain peace and order in the region.
Recently, the BJP MP from Uttar Kannada Lok Sabha constituency Ananth Kumar Hegde had sparked a controversy when he stated in a press conference that terrorism cannot be eradicated while Islam survives, implying that Islam teaches terrorism and should be finished off. He later stood by his statement and when asked about the controversy his statement would create, he reportedly said that Hindus won’t stay silent and fearful. This later statement further intensified the growing resentment against Hegde in the region.
As soon as Hegde’s statement spread, various organisations, mostly those owned and managed by Muslims are demanding for his arrest. Various political and social leaders have come together to condemn his statement and have called it an attempt to polarise the society on communal lines. Some political analysts have also suggested that this is a well-thought plan of the BJP to destabilise peace in the region as many such statements are being made in different parts of country.
As a precautionary measure, the district administration has enforced section 144 and also deployed additional police force in the region.