I always saw myself as an Indian officer, says A B Ibrahim, the deputy commissioner of Dakshin Kannada.
He is in the news after the Bajrang Dal and the BJP have threatened to launch a stir if his name is not taken out of the invitation for the annual festival at the Mahalingeshwara temple in Puttur, which is around 60 kilometres away from Mangalore.
Yes, I am sad and hurt as I never viewed myself as being part of any religion. I always considered myself as an Indian officer and took pride in that fact.
However, these protests have reminded me that what matters to many is not that I am officer, but a Muslim, a dejected Ibrahim said.
I am an Indian officer:
Ibrahim informed that this is not the first time that he had been invited for an event at the temple. In the two years that I have been here, I have attended many festivals of Hindus. I have had no problem in going and many were even happy that I went there.
I have never been biased. It is not fair to even accuse me of bias. Ask anyone they will tell you that I have paid extra attention to the needs of the temples in the district and also to all my Hindu brothers.
What hurts me is that we continue to remain divided. There are some for whom it does not matter that I have given special attention to temples and Hindus.
They only want to divide the society and it is sad that this is still the situation after so many years of independence, Ibrahim added.
What is the controversy about:
The annual festival of the Mahalingeshwara temple is round the corner. The 12th century temple which is under the control of the State Government witnesses grand celebrations during the annual festival to be held in April.
The temple sent out invitations in which the names of Ibrahim and the local MLA of Puttur was also present. The name of the deputy commissioner is present in the invitation as a matter of protocol.
However, the Bajrang Dal and the BJP have opposed it and say that they want Ibrahim's name to be removed from the invite failing which they will stage a major protest.
Bajrang Dal leaders feel that the sanctity of the temple will be lost if he were to enter the premises.