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Once A Commercial Hub, How Hubballi Became The Epicentre Of Communal Politics In Karnataka

The decline of industry and businesses in Hubballi, once a thriving centre for processing cotton, coincided with spurts of communal violence in the 1980s and 1990s.

Song and praise: Union minister Pralhad Joshi takes part in a ‘Mangal Aarti’ of Ganesha at Chennamma Photo: PTI

In summer, when mangoes are in season, heaps of the famous Alphonso and the freshly harvested local Ishad variety, pile up for sale at Hubballi’s Idgah maidan. From the early 1990s, however, the 1.5-acre patch of land in the city’s heart, known as the Kittur Rani Chennamma maidan, has also been synonymous with a bitter harvest of religious strife. It has taken lives and dwindled the economic fortunes of the city, once called north Karnataka’s commercial capital.

Three decades ago, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) campaign against Babri Masjid in Ayodhya—a small town in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, about 1,700 km north of Hubballi—led to the demolition of the 16th-century mosque. After decades of legal proceedings, the Supreme Court in 2019 allowed the construction of a temple to Rama, the Hindu god, at the site of the erstwhile mosque. The court also allocated land at a different site for the construction of a new mosque.

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