In Polarised Dakshina Kannada, Hindu Man Rescues Muslim from Drowning

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The example of interfaith bond from Dakshina Kannada suggests that peaceful coexistence and unity in diversity, the age-old Indian tradition remains impregnable.

Syed Ali Mujtaba

A heartwarming example of interfaith fraternal bond has come to light in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka, the second laboratory of Hindutva after Gujarat. A Hindu man rescued a Muslim from drowning into a swollen river. The incident happened at Hariharapallathadka in Sullia taluk of Dakshina Kannada, on August 2, 2022.

Mohammad Shareef, an earthmover operator, was clearing driftwood that had been washed away by the swollen water body and some of which were stuck on a bridge at Hariharapallathadka. During the clearing process of the driftwood, Shareef accidentally fell into the river in spate.

Sensing danger to the life of Shareef, his associate, Somashekar Kattemane, jumped into the river risking his own life. The video of the rescue act is going viral on social media. The heartwarming images have received widespread appreciation by the common people, negating the theory that the coastal region of Karnataka has become the second Gujarat. 

Dakshina Kannada is a hotbed for communal violence. Locals here say they have grown used to the endless cycle of violence that may erupt anywhere and at any time in the region with no prospects of peace in sight.

The roots of communal clashes in Dakshina Kannada dates back to Babri Masjid demolition on November 6, 1992 in the aftermath of which there were communal riots.  This event polarised society and made people conscious of their religious identities. Since then, brainwashing of the people is being systematically carried out. They are told religion comes first, and other things later. This mindset has spread in the entire region.

Simultaneously, some militant Hindu groups like Bajrang Dal, Hindu Yuva Sene, Sri Rama Sene, Hindu Jagarana Vedike and Hindu Rakshana Vedike have emerged in Dakshina Kannada on the pretext of protecting the Hindu community from the Muslims.

In response, Karnataka Forum for Dignity which started to protect the minorities, Dalits and other marginalised communities soon became the Popular Front of India (PFI) and SDPI (a registered political party) to address the issues of the Muslims.

Just like the Hindu outfits, even the Muslim organisations and parties have a vested interest in the politics of polarisation in the region. The SDPI, which is contesting Gram Panchayat and Zilla Panchayat elections, is cornering electoral gains from the religious polarisation.

However, the main gainer in communal politics is the Hindu right-wing political groups. They have a huge stake in the politics of communal polarisation and hence want the communal pot to keep boiling. This kind of politics has a direct bearing on the Assembly elections that are due in Karnataka next year.

As such both sides do not want to make peace. However, the example of brotherhood from Dakshina Kannada suggests that peaceful coexistence and unity in diversity, the age-old Indian tradition remains impregnable for that cannot be breached by the extremist of any community.

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Syed Ali Mujtaba can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com

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