Rising polarisation in Karnataka: 'It's very, very dangerous'
Karnataka has recently had a difficult scenario, with right-wing organisations and elected lawmakers presenting concerns and making them communally contentious. In a couple of days, everything from Hijab to Muslim vendor bans and now Halal meat has been raked up and polarised. Concerned that the situation might devolve into rioting, experts have urged civic society to work together to restore the social fabric and hold political officials accountable.
The situation in Karnataka is polarised and may lead to riots like situations if not addressed by collective voices, say experts.
Speaking to Asianet News, social anthropologist and independent researcher AR Vasavi noted that there is an intensification of deep boundaries between communities. Hatred and such differences existed earlier as well but this time is driven by hate politics, she said.
She said, 'In a span of a few days, they (right-wing outfits and leaders) have gone from Hijab to banning traders to halal boycott; you know it is very, very dangerous. The literacy rate has got nothing to do with communal violence and hatred. As per data, we saw that in Baroda or Ahmedabad, the violence took place, and there is no correlation between people with literacy being less communal.'
She observed that the situation needs to be addressed from multiple levels; "one is the people themselves should come out and reclaim the plural diverse social fabric that existed and which was functioning that enabled everybody to have a different life."
"People need to vote out communal parties. There is a lack of accountability from political leaders. Our political leaders are in hate campaigns, and nobody is holding them accountable. How state mechanisms should deal with such things left to citizens to make them count," questioned Vasavi.
Expressing concern about the violence, she stated that if it is not checked, it can lead to civil war. "What you saw was riots in Gujarat and various parts of North India, if it (polarisation) is not addressed immediately, it will be the worst. Every civil society group and everybody needs to raise the issue," she added.
However, former Karnataka DGP ST Ramesh observed that the situation has the potential to lead to violent public order situation.
"Policing has become way more challenging in Karnataka today as various issues relating to religious minorities are raked up daily. Views and policies on some of the most sensitive issues impinging not only on religion but also on livelihood issues are being articulated by individuals and responsible persons from the ruling echelons," he said.
Ramesh further stated that police are sitting on a veritable powder keg as these issues have the potential for violent public order situations. "The conditions are a far cry from the one that the police in Karnataka faced a couple of decades ago," said ST Ramesh.
He further added that keeping in mind the social, religious harmony vital for peace, tranquillity, and normal economic activity, particularly after COVID 19 and Ukraine war, has seriously impacted the commoner irrespective of his/ her religious identity. He said citizens, civil society, intellectuals, media, and people from all walks of life must voice their opposition to these polarising ideas and activities.