[We at Kafila condemn the repeated attacks on scholar activist Professor Kancha Ilaiah by the Hindu Right and the recent case registered against him by the Hyderabad police. According to a Times of India report, Ilaiah had on May 14 delivered a lecture in Vijayawada in a programme entitled `Nationalism and Divergent Views’ organised by CITU where he reportedly criticised Hindu gods and scriptures, according to the police. Following this an advocate filed a private petition in the court of the XI Metropolitan Magistrate court, Ranga Reddy , requesting to register an FIR under relevant sections of IPC. The court directed cops to register a case under sections 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs),153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) and 298 (uttering, words, etc. with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person) of IPC.”
Earlier, last year the VHP had initiated a campaign against him which was followed by the filing of a case against him by the Hyderabad police. That was in relation to an article Kancha Ilaiah had written, asking ‘Is God a Democrat?’ The story by Ajaz Ashraf from Scroll.in linked below refers to last year’s case but due to an inadvertent mix-up, was initially extracted by us as the one in the eye of the current controversy. The error is seriously regretted and we thank one of our readers for pointing this out. The Times of India report linked to above gives refers to the speech that is currently in the eye of the storm.
Professor Ilaiah has now himself described the current attacks on him in this piece in Scroll.in, where he signs his article as Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, recalling his caste name (translated into English, in order to mark his distance from the brahmans).
The attacks on Professor Ilaiah are totally unacceptable. We have all read and long admired his writings. Many of us have hugely benefited and learnt a lot from them. The time has come for us to collectively put our heads together and fight this menace of Hindutva, which after hurting every living being’s dignity and sentiments, has now begun claim to be the perpetual and universal victim. Dalits today cannot speak of the indignities and oppression that they have suffered at the hands of the Hindus – even that has become a matter of ‘hurt sentiments’. The response has to be worked out politically and intellectually so that the law is not repeatedly turned into a surrogate of Hindutva politics.]
The Hyderabad police have registered a case against renowned social scientist Kancha Ilaiah, after Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists complained that an opinion piece he wrote in the Telugu newspaper Andhra Jyothi had hurt their religious sentiments.
They filed their complaint at Hyderabad’s Sultan Bazar Station was filed on May 9, the day Ilaiah’s article titled Devudu Prajasamya Vada Kada? (Is God a democrat?) was published.
VHP activists Pagudakula Balaswamy, Thirupathi Naik and two others accused Ilaiah of comparing Hinduism with Islam and Christianity, insulting Hindu Gods by comparing them to mortals, mocking their worship, and for attempting to trigger clashes between upper and lower classes (by which they presumably meant castes).
On the basis of their complaint, Inspector P. Shiva Shankar Rao wrote a letter to the Senior Assistant Public Prosecutor, who advised the police to register a case under Section 153 (A) and Section 295 (A), which empower the authorities to act against people who commit deliberate and malicious acts aiming at outraging religious sentiment and spreading enmity between groups.
Case under investigation
The public prosecutor’s legal opinion led to a case being filed on May 15 against Ilaiah, the management of the Andhra Jyothi newspaper, its editor and publisher. The case is currently under investigation, at the completion of which a decision will be taken to whether to chargesheet them.
A police officer at the station told Scroll that Ilaiah is in the habit of articulating provocative views in his articles, which can and do hurt the sentiments of people. “Why does he have to make comments against practices which are dear to people?” the officer said, declining to give his name.