"Our trusted ally and friend, India, is better than this," a member of the US House of Representatives said.

Death threats to Kancha Ilaiah and Gauri Lankesh murder raised in US Congress
news Politics Sunday, October 15, 2017 - 08:39

The threats received by writer and social scientist Kancha Ilaiah and with the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru, found their way to the United States Congress, after a member of the US House of Representatives raised the issues.

Harold Trent Franks, from Arizona’s 8th congressional district in the US House of Representatives, raised the two issues on October 12, in a speech that lasted for around four minutes.

"The first amendment of our constitution gives us the freedom of speech that we cherish in America. Across the world, Mr. Speaker, individual freedom of speech is frequently infringed. A posted critique or just sharing one‚Äôs views freely on the internet can be punishable, even by death,‚ÄĚ Franks said, 

Pointing out that Gauri was a staunch critic of the ruling-BJP party in India, Franks spoke about how she was shot to death outside her home.

Speaking about Kancha, Franks said, "Just weeks ago, another prominent figure, Professor Kancha Ilaiah, known for critiquing India's caste system, was threatened by a Hindu member of India's Parliament in India. This MP, an ally of the current BJP government, demanded that Kancha be hanged." 

Arya Vysya organisations have been holding protests in parts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and burning the writer's effigies, seeking a ban on his book, 'Samaajika Smugglerlu Komatollu' (Social Smugglers: Komattis).

"Following this, he received numerous death threats. A mob tried to attack the professor with stones. Was Ilaiah's crime significant? His crime was that he was the author of 'Why I am not a Hindu'...This book was described in a polarised context of modern India, specifically dealing with the productivity of the Dalits and lower castes," he added.

In conclusion, Franks said, "Our trusted ally and friend, India, is better than this. Professor Kancha Ilaiah's right and freedom of speech should not be infringed, and his protection should be of utmost priority to the Indian government."

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), that sought a ban on the writer's book. 

Observing that banning of the book would curtail the writer's freedom of expression, the Supreme Court said that writers have to express their opinions within the purview of the law.

The booklet ‚ÄėSaamajika Smugglerlu: Komatollu‚Äô is the Telugu translation of his English book Post-Hindu India, written in 2009.

Kancha has defended his book, telling reporters earlier, "Social Smuggling is a phrase. It is the economic process of exploitation, which means earning in business but not investing back into society."

He was a professor from the political science department from Osmania University and is currently the Director, Center for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) in Hyderabad.



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