In the Madras High Court (HC), members of the Muslim community filed a petition seeking a ban on Hindu festivals and processions in the Muslim dominated areas in Tamil Nadu. However, a bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and P Velmurugan rejected the petition while hearing an appeal over the conduct of temple processions by villagers at V Kalathur in Perambalur district in Tamil Nadu on a specified route.
(Procession on the occasion of Hindu festival Thaipusam in Tamil Nadu)
Why a petition was filed?
According to the Deputy Superintendent of Police, the three days festival of the aforesaid temples were peacefully conducted till the year 2011 and only from the year 2012 onwards the Muslims started objecting to some of the Hindu festivals, terming them as 'Sins'.
The petitioner had therefore approached the police for providing protection during the conduct of rituals and processions. The same was provided by the law enforcement authorities with restrictions.
From the year 2012 to 2015, processions were taken out through all the streets and roads which have been approved by this Court, but later objections were raised.
Why Muslims term the celebration of Hindu festivals as sin?
Hindus are idol worshipers. They celebrate several festivals addressing multiple gods. Carrying out a procession of Gods on specific days according to the Hindu calendar is an ancient culture in India.
However, Muslims believed that there is only one God, and that is Allah. According to them, believing in a god other than Allah is a sin.
In Islam, shirk is the sin of idolatry or polytheism (i.e., the deification or worship of anyone or anything besides Allah). Islam teaches that God does not share His divine attributes with any partner. Associating partners with God is disallowed according to the Islamic doctrine of Tawhid (monotheism). Mushrik are those who practice shirk, which literally means "association" and refers to accepting other gods and divinities alongside God (as God's "associates"). The Qur'an considers shirk as a sin that will not be forgiven if a person dies without repenting of it.
Hindu - Muslim conflicts
This is not only the case that emerged as a Hindu-Muslim conflict in India. Many cases have been registered for attacking religious processions carried out by Hindus in India. On September 18, 2020, a Muslim mob attacked a group of 10-15 Hindu devotees when a Vishwakarma idol immersion procession was passing through a Muslim dominated locality in the Tarnia village, Motihari block, in Bihar. They attacked the Hindu group with lathis and bamboos. Several people were injured and the Lord Vishwakarma idol was also reportedly damaged.
What Madras HC says on the petition?
The Madras HC pointed out how objections were raised by the Muslim community despite the Court granting permission to the Hindus to carry out temple processions (in accordance with Section 180A of the District Municipalities Act 1920).
Madras HC said -
"Merely because one religious group is dominating in a particular locality, it cannot be a ground to prohibit from celebrating religious festivals or taking processions of other religious groups through those roads," the court said. "If religious intolerance is going to be allowed, it is not good for a secular country. Intolerance in any form by any religious group has to be curtailed and prohibited."
"In this case, intolerance of a particular religious group is exhibited by objecting for the festivals which have been conducted for decades together and the procession through the streets and roads of the village are sought to be prohibited, stating that the area is dominated by Muslims and therefore, there cannot be any Hindu festival or procession through the locality," the judges noted.
Muslim dominance in India
According to a statement in the Rajya Sabha by the Ministry of Human Resource Development during the budget session in 2014, Muslims, nearly 14.2 per cent of the country’s population, count for 20 per cent or more in 86 of its 675 districts. The 86 include 19 with a Muslim population over 50 per cent, 10 of these in Jammu and Kashmir and six in Assam. Muslims represent a majority of the local population in Lakshadweep (96.2%) and Jammu and Kashmir (68.3%). The largest concentration – about 47% of all Muslims in India, live in the three states named Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Bihar.