Bengaluru/Nagpur: A temple festival invite in Puttur in Karnataka sparked a controversy as it carried the name of a Muslim deputy commissioner among the invitees.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal have raised objection to the name of Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner AB Ibrahim being printed on the invite of Shree Mahalingeshwara Temple’s annual festival.
Speaking to CNN, Ibrahim claimed that he had done a lot for the temple but people did not object then. Pointing that he had sanctioned CCTV cameras and a new vehicle for the temple, he said that it is a protocol of the DC to overlook all the government programmes in the region.
“My name was on many temple invites before in the same region and this is not the first time. In the past two years, I have held more than 25 meetings with many temple authorities in the region,” said the IAS officer.
The government has, meanwhile, defended the DC saying that the name of an official of the given rank in on the invite of government maintained temples is normal procedure.
Karnataka Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Higher Education Minister TB Jayachandra said, “what the DC of Mangalore Ibrahim has done is perfectly correct. He has just followed the rules of the Muzrai department. The state government is fully behind him and there is no question of removing his name just because some fanatic elements demand that.”
The organisations have threatened to hold a protest and call a Dakshina Kannada district bandh on March 19.
Mahalingeshwara temple in Puttur taluk 60 KM from Mangalore is a state government administered temple. They are called Muzrai temples and the Deputy Commissioner cum District Magistrate is the head of the its administration in his or her district. The DC has to organise the religious events, festivals etc in consultation with the local temple management boards.
A promotee IAS officer, Ibrahim, hails from Mangalore and has earlier served in various capacities including the Commissioner of Mangalore City Corporation. He said that he was hurt by the unnecessary controversy.
Ibrahim got his name printed on the invitation card for the festival in his official capacity, following rules and tradition.
The local VHP unit objected to it, demanding that his name should be removed and a new invitation card should be printed. The local Congress MLA Shakunthala Shetty initially backed the demand and later backtracked. She is originally from BJP and defected to the Congress before the last Assembly election.
According to bureaucrats, something like this is happening for the first time in Karnataka and the state has had several hundred non-Hindu bureaucrats in the past who faced no such discrimination on the basis of their religion.