Writer, activist and social scientist Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd complained to the Osmania University police on Monday that he has been receiving threatening phone calls since Sunday.
Some of the callers have threatened to cut off his tongue, Kancha Ilaiah alleged.
Trouble began for the social scientist after a portion of his book Post Hindu India was translated into Telugu and published under the title Samajika Smugglerlu – Komatollu (Social Smugglers – Vysyas) by Boomi Publications.
Arya Vysya associations have taken offence to the title and content of the book, which they say is derogatory towards their caste. Representatives of these associations have condemned the book on television news channels, and have launched protests at various places across the Telugu states.
Kacham Satyanarayana, Convenor of the Telangana Arya Vysya Chaitanya Vedika, whose name also features in the complaint by Kancha Ilaiah, said, "Kancha Ilaiah is trying to trigger caste tensions in the state. Who is he to talk about us? From Gandhi to Potti Sri Ramulu, Vysyas have done a lot for this society."
According to Station House Officer V Ashok Reddy of the Osmania University police station, a case of criminal intimidation has been registered based on Kancha Ilaiah’s complaint, and investigations into the case are ongoing.
One of the main objections to the book has been the term ‘Social Smugglers’. However, Kancha Ilaiah told NTV that his detractors had misunderstood the term and the intent of the book.
“It is a well-researched book. I wrote it highlighting economic conditions from the Gupta period to contemporary times. Social smuggling is not a derogatory word like Smuggling. It is taken out of context. I wrote it to highlight the social and economic exploitation that has been practiced according to the Manusmriti,” Kancha Ilaiah said. He said that the term social smuggling referred to the historical monopoly of resources by certain communities.
Ilaiah also said that the book is aimed at social reformation and is an appeal to Vysyas to follow in the footsteps of Gandhi, to break down the practice of untouchability
“While these are constitutional rights, it doesn’t happen in practice. Since Vysyas own and manage all the trade and business in the country, even in the Telugu states, they should partake in this social reformation,” Kancha Ilaiah added.
Ilaiah has also received the support of Dalit writers and academicians, who have hit out at the Arya Vysya associations as resenting a Dalit scholar interpreting their history.
Kendriya Sahitya Academy recipient Pasunoori Ravinder said that the Arya Vysya associations are unable to “digest a shepherd writing a counter history”.
Dalit scholar and writer Jilukara Srinivas, said, "This is nothing but the crushing of history. They should understand the sociology behind it, or should not speak otherwise."
He added, "This shows that democratic voices being silenced and extremism is being backed. If they want to express their dissent, they can write books countering Ilaiah's argument. But it is criminal to say, 'we will kill him or slit his tongue'."