This is not an exhaustive list

The atmosphere of threats that plagues Karnatakas intellectualsMM Kalburgi (top left), Dinesh Amin Mattu (top right), UR Ananthamurthy (bottom left), KS Bhagwan (bottom right)
news Friday, September 25, 2015 - 12:26

Kannada writer MM Kalburgi’s murder at point blank range may appear to have opened the flood gates to an atmosphere of threats. In three weeks, several people including writers have been receiving threats or have been targeted otherwise.

While such open threats have rarely been seen in the state in such a short span of time, the atmosphere of threats has always been around. Here’s a brief timeline of the kind of atmosphere in the state since Kalburgi’s murder, and the past history of threats issued mainly by Hindutva supporters in the recent past.

Vasu Reddy, Kolar

Twenty-five-year-old Vasu Reddy K said that a man who identified himself as Siddu had told him to stop expressing his views or else he would end up as a corpse on the streets. 

“Listen to me. Remember where you were born, what you do there, whose rice you eat, which country you are born in. Disregarding that, if you continue to indulge in immoral activities, give statements about anything under the sun, spoil students, you won’t live for long. What will happen? You will end up as a corpse on the street,” a voice can be heard saying in the audio clip.

Vasu says he knows Siddu through a WhatsApp group in which around 50 people from across the state discuss various issues regarding faith, religion, politics.

KS Bhagwan, Mysuru

Rationalist and close associate of Kalburgi, KS Bhagwan has become the target of Hindutva supporters’ ire on many fronts. He has received a threatening letter, been inundated with calls and messages of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ after his mobile phone number was circulated in a WhatsApp message.

In February he had irked many people when he called the Bhagawad Gita an “unholy” book and offered to burn it.

Read: After Kalburgi, Bajrang Dal activist tells another scholar he's next, deletes tweet and says sorry

Following another programme in Bengaluru, where he made offensive remarks, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad said it would file 100 cases against Bhagwan across Karnataka.

Read: Kannada writer KS Bhagwan flooded with abuse after his number was spread on WhatsApp

Nidumamidi seer, Bengaluru

In the days after Kalburgi’s death, there were reports of a ‘hitlist’ of activists, intellectuals and religious leaders in the state. The seer of the Nidumamidi Mutt Veeerabhadra Channammalla Swami, was also reportedly on the list. The seer is a powerful voice in the Lingayat community, to which he belongs. He is one of the leaders who led a delegation of the Forum for Progressive Pontiffs and submitted a memorandum to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah urging him to pass the anti-superstition bill.

Nidumamidi Swami told The Daily Mail “This is not new to me. I am told that they (fundamentalists) have prepared a hit list of people opposed to casteism and Hindu rituals. I am told that I am part of the list. But I am not seeking any police protection. I only wish the state government takes the threats of such individuals seriously,” he added.
 

Sheetal Sathe / St. Xavier’s College, Bengaluru

In August, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had allegedly forced St. Xavier’s College in Bengaluru to withdraw an invitation to Dalit activist and singer Sheetal Sathe to perform at the annual festival of the college called ‘Malhar’ during a discussion titled ‘The invisibility of caste’.

“She is an anti-national. Such people should be barred from entering colleges because they will influence the youth. If the college sticks to its stand, we will close down Malhar,” Yadunath Deshpande, ABVP’s Mumbai organisational secretary, told The Hindu.

After the last minute cancellation, the programme was held in another college in the city.

Dinesh Amin Mattu, Bengaluru

In January this year, media adviser to the chief minister of Karnataka Dinesh Amin Mattu lodged a complaint with the Bengaluru police after he was allegedly threatened with assault for an article he had written three years ago.

Members of the Facebook Nilume had allegedly threatened him over an article that he had written about Vivekananda when he was a senior editor with Kannada daily Prajavani. Even then the article had generated a debate, with Hindutva groups taking offence to it.

Read: Media adviser to Karnataka CM lodges complaint for online abuse for a three-year-old article

MM Kalburgi and UR Ananthamurthy

Both Kalburgi and Ananthamurthy were targeted for an essay that the latter had written nearly two decades ago. During a public programme, Kalburgi had referred to it during a public programme in June 2014, and said that Ananthamurthy had urinated on a religious idol as a child. After this statement was reported by the media, VHP and Bajrang Dal threatened both writers. At least four cases were filed against Ananthamurthy over this incident and one against Kalburgi.

Read: Case against Ananthamurthy, Kalburgi for allegedly offending religious sentiments

Narendra Nayak, Mangaluru

President of the Federation of Indian Rationalists’ Association Narendra Nayak has travelled to every state of the country except for Manipur, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, and to foreign countries as well. In numerous villages, towns and cities, Nayak has performed the very miracles through which godmen have claimed some kind of divinity.

Asked if he had ever been threatened, Nayak said: “It is a part of our life.”

The most serious injury he has had was in Mangaluru, Nayak said, when a bunch of goons had attacked him on September 21, 1995, in the lab in the medical college where he taught biochemistry. He had suffered a head injury and had to be hospitalized for a day.

Another incident that occurred five years ago made him happy. The local Lion’s Club had invited him to address them. “One of the men there insisted that he introduce me. He asked me if I remembered him, and then said that he had led the attack against me in 1992 when I had addressed people in Town Hall. He publicly apologized for that attack.”

Asked how he approached people, Nayak said: “I show them what the godmen do, and then ask them to think before they believe anything.”

(Ananthamurthy Photo Courtesy: Thachan.makan at ml.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

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