The Karnataka High Court has taken action on the FIR filed against Hindutva leader Sharan Pumpwell regarding allegations of inciting communal hatred in relation to the issue of allowing Muslim traders to conduct business within the premises of a temple in Dakshina Kannada district.
The FIR had been lodged by the Mangaluru City South police against Sharan Pumpwell. It was in connection with a statement he made, urging Hindus to patronize only those shops owned by Hindu traders who had displayed saffron flags. The police had cited these actions as potentially disruptive to communal harmony.
A bench led by Justice T.G. Shivashankare Gowda has issued a stay on the FIR, while also serving notice to the Inspector of the Mangaluru South police station.
During the court proceedings, senior advocate M. Arun Shyam, representing the accused Hindu activist Sharan Pumpwell, argued that there were no valid grounds for the FIR. Shyam contended that the case was initiated by the police for political reasons, suggesting it was driven by ulterior motives. Furthermore, the senior counsel called for the FIR to be quashed altogether.
The controversy emerged when the management of the renowned Mangala Devi temple initially permitted only Hindu traders to operate during the annual religious fair. However, this decision was met with opposition from a group of traders who submitted a complaint to district authorities. The authorities allowed Muslim traders to participate in trading within the temple premises.
In response, Hindutva activists initiated a campaign advocating for the display of saffron flags on stalls run by Hindu traders. They also encouraged the public to support businesses operating from these stalls. Police alleged that on October 16, Hindu activists, led by Sharan Pumpwell and others, hoisted saffron flags on the stalls.
Sharan Pumpwell took his case to the high court, seeking the quashing of the FIR against him.