In a communally charged statement, Pramod Muthalik, the chief of the controversial Hindu outfit Sri Ram Sene said that the Jamia Masjid in Karnataka’s Gadag “should be demolished,” drawing a parallel with the Babri Masjid demolition. Muthalik claimed that an erstwhile Venkateshwara Temple will be rebuilt in place of the mosque which exists now.
Speaking in Gadag district on Sunday, October 17, Muthalik claimed, “We had to fight for 72 years for Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. After 72 long years, Babri Masjid has been removed and Ram Mandir will be built there. In the same manner, in Gadag, the Jamma Masjid that’s there, it’s a Venkateshwara Temple and I’m telling it with full confidence that it should be razed.”
Muthalik went on to claim, “There’s proof that Babri Masjid was built on a temple, similarly, during Tipu Sultan’s rule, Venkateshwara Temple was demolished and Jamma Masjid was built. We have proof.”
Muthalik was presiding over an event held by the Sri Ram Sene to “sensitize” people on alleged religious conversions. The event comes in the backdrop of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s recent announcement that the government will bring an anti-conversion law to impose a ban on “forceful conversion activities” in the state. “The government is studying laws implemented in this regard by the various state governments in the country. The law in this regard will be enacted soon in Karnataka,” he told reporters. In a rather controversial decision, the Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare Department has also ordered the officers to conduct a survey of both official and non-official Christian missionaries functioning in the state.
So far, police have not registered a case against Muthalik. Speaking with TNM, district Superintendent of Police Yatish N said, “I have not gone through the contents of the speech. If someone comes up with a complaint, we will investigate.”
It is to be noted that while the Supreme Court heard the Ayodhya case as a land dispute, it had remarked in its judgment on November 9, 2019 that the demolition of the Babri Masjid was an “egregious wrong.” The demolition in 1992 had triggered widespread communal riots across major cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Bhopal, and several people were killed. In September 2020, a special CBI court, however, acquitted 32 including BJP veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi over the demolition.
This is not the first time Pramod Muthalik has made provocative and communally charged statements. Multhalik is a habitual offender; he had prided himself on the group’s gruesome attack in a pub in 2008 in Mangaluru, where men and women were beaten up for “adopting Western culture.” Though visuals of the pub attack were broadcast on television screens, the outfit members were acquitted due to lack of evidence and other technical reasons.
C. The News Minute