Sunday, December 3, 2023

Karnataka: Stones pelted at mosque, locals allege “revenge over hijab issue”

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The Jamia Masjid in Hampapur village in Krishnarajanagara, a town in Karnataka’s Mysore district, was attacked by at least 4-5 unidentified persons on 09 February at around 12:30 AM.

In a video accessed by Maktoob of the mosque on the next morning, the window panes can be seen broken and pelted stones are seen in a ditch.

“I was sleeping in my room in the masjid. I heard something break. Then again, I heard a similar sound of something crashing at the windows of the masjid,” says Mohd Muzzamil Athar, imam of the mosque. 

“I got up and looked out through an opening, seeing me, the men pelting stones ran away. I couldn’t make out their faces as it was dark. In the morning, I went to check the damage done to the masjid. They had even mangled the top of the Minar of the Kabristan”.

“This is for the first time something like this has happened. This masjid has been here for the past 30-40 years,” added Mohd Muzzamil Athar. 

On the morning of 9 February, locals of the village went to Mahboob Khan, a local leader and member of Janta Dal (Secular) to get his help in filing an FIR on the incident. Maktoob tried reaching out to Mahboob Khan on a phone call several times but received no response.

“They attacked the masjid at night. They threw stones and broke the windows of the masjid. The same people then tried to break the gate of the Qabristan [graveyard] adjoining the masjid. They even went to the extent that they put undergarments on the gate of the Qabristan,” said Imran, a local resident.

“The village has a very small population of Muslims. We were afraid the whole night,” added Imran.

“At the police station, the police made us wait from 10 AM to 6 PM but didn’t file an FIR. We later dropped the idea of FIR because we feared that we might face harassment from the police and people (Hindu),” said Akmal Ahmed, a fabrication contractor and a local. 

Maktoob Media accessed a copy of the complaint made by the secretary of the Jamia Masjid to the police for filing of an FIR. 

“We fear that the masjid was attacked because of the Hijab controversy happening in Karnataka. Clashes took place in Mandya between Hindu students and hijabi students on 08 February and the same night our masjid is also attacked. This is no coincidence. They [Hindus] want to take revenge,” added Akmal Ahmed.

On 8 February, clashes between hundreds of Hindu students donning saffron shawls who gave the cry of “Jai Shree Ram”, and hijabi students, broke out in several government colleges in Krishnarajanagara PET, Mandya, a town 23 kilometres away from Hampapur village. It was only after police intervention that the situation was brought under control.

Over the last few weeks, several pre-university colleges in Karnataka have refused entry to hijab-wearing girl students which has led to protests by Muslim women. In retaliation, some Hindu students donning saffron shawls and turbans protested pelted stones and heckled hijabi women.

Last week, the saffron flag was also hoisted at a college in the Shivamogga district of Karnataka. 

Since the incident, two police personnel have been deployed at night at the masjid and one police personnel in the morning.

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