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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Did PFI attack Karnataka devotees at Srisailam in planned manner, using Islamist shopkeepers around temple?

On Ugadi day, devotees from Karnataka were reportedly attacked by Muslims in Srisailam Mallikarjuna Swamy temple. Nearly a hundred vehicles with Karnataka registration numbers were set on fire and stones were pelted at the pilgrims.

Around 25 lakh devotees from Karnataka went on pilgrimage to Srisialam on the occasion of Ugadi. One of the devotees had an argument with a shopkeeper near the temple. The shop owner was reportedly a Christian and he had sold a water bottle at an inflated price of Rs.50 instead of the nominal price of Rs.10. An altercation ensued between them and the shop owner is said to have attacked the devotee with an axe.

The devotee was severely injured and as a result, Kannadiga devotees attacked a few shops in the area. Shiva Shakti, an organisation fighting against conversion, illegal churches, etc on the ground in Andhra posted a video explaining what happened that night. Shiva Shakti has earlier exposed the influence of 2 Muslim brothers in the Srisailam temple and their illegal activities.

Shiva Shakti says that the shop owner who attacked the Kannadiga devotee is a Christian. As per their ground report, the incident happened in a place far away from the temple. Kannadiga devotees attacked some shops nearby in rage as one of their own was severely injured. But it was the Muslim brothers Rafiq and Razaq who took the opportunity to turn it into a fullscale riot.

Their men started attacking devotees, and set fire to vehicles with Karnataka registration numbers reportedly as a retaliation to the hijab issue. Mohammad Razaq, involved in this issue is the temple contractor. He has been giving contracts to Muslim shop owners to set up shops inside the temple premises. Additionally, there are allegations of temple land being encroached on by the Waqf board and other Islamists.

BJP leader and Goshamahal MLA Raja Singh alleged that Muslims, who have cornered businesses in the temple town, have been harbored by Srisailam MLA Silpa Chakrapani Reddy. He also said that Razaq is a close aide of Reddy and Razaq’s brother is a TDP leader hence the brothers are able to exercise control over the temple using their influences no matter which party is in power.

Singh also revealed that Razaq’s wife, who is the supervisor of the Gaushala at the temple, has been helping her husband by facilitating the killing of cows for meat consumption. Several cases against Razaq are pending among which is the one where he is said to have transported mutton in flower baskets. These baskets are used for bringing flowers for puja to the temple. Recently gold and other precious items were discovered under a Shiva Linga in Srisailam’s Ganta Matam. This treasure is said to have been taken away by Razaq.

A 2011 State Endowments Commissioner order states that no contracts either of the Devasthanam Temple Complex or any other contract were to be awarded to non-Hindus. However, several Muslims have got contracts violating this order. In 2019 Temple Executive Officer A Ramchandra Murthy was transferred out for supporting Razaq and his brother Rafi who began exercising their authority in the temple’s affairs.

Ramamurthy had converted to Islam, married another woman, and helped the Muslim brothers gain upper hand in temple affairs. He was also accused of letting non-Hindus rent temple properties. Hindu organisations have accused Muslims of encroaching on the areas around Srisailam Mallikarjuna temple and renting temple shops by using Hindu names in the auction.

VHP alleged that out of the 400 constructed shops Muslims leased 40% of them. VHP made these accusations in 2012 when the Muzrai department conducted auctions to lease temporary shops during the Brahmotsavam festival. In 2019 when there was an uproar over non-Hindus working in Tirupati Devasthanam, the employees of Srisailam temple were subjected to inspection.

The Executive Officer of the temple found that 17 employees were non-Hindus, 3 of them Muslims and the remaining Christians. What’s more, the Christians had got employment by giving Hindu names even though they had changed their names after conversion. due to incessant opposition and protest the AP government decided to enforce section 13 of the AP Endowments Act which says only Hindus should be allowed to conduct all types of activity on temple premises.

Razaq and Rafiq went to court against this and were snubbed by the High Court. However, they got justice Chandrachud as their judge when they appealed in SC who ruled that non-Hindus must be allowed to rent/lease temple properties as long as they are not inside the temple premises. Kurnool district where Srisialam is located is a PFI infested region.

In February 2022, PFI members took out a rally in Holagundha, Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh and it is alleged that they raised slogans of “zindabad, zindabad, Aurangzeb zindabad”. It is feared that PFI which is behind the hijab issue in Karnataka has used the Muslim shopkeepers around Srisailam temple to take revenge on Kannadiga devotees. The media played along by reporting the incident as Kannadigas creating ruckus and indulging in violence intentionally.

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