Karnataka Police denied permission for the Chikkamagaluru district Sahitya Sammelana, a literature festival scheduled for January 10 and 11 in Sringeri over concerns of law and order disruption. In a letter to Kundur Ashok, president of the district unit of Kannada Sahitya Parihat (KSP), Sringeri police inspector Siddaramaiah stated that there were protests related to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Chikkamagaluru and cited possible law and order disruption,
The police asked organisers of the festival to postpone the event though they were intimated earlier and acknowledged the intimation given by the organisers about the details of the festival.
Though the police have quoted CAA protests as a reason, organisers of the festival believe that the denial of permission was because of opposition to the appointment of environmental activist Kulkuli Vittal Hegde as the president of the Chikkamagaluru District Kannada Sahitya Sammelana in the run-up to the event. The opposition was mainly from pro-Hindu groups including Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
The organisers of the literary festival defended the decision to appoint Kulkuli Vittal Hegde as the president and have said that the event will go ahead. "We have taken a decision that we will not change the head of the literary festival. He is someone who has fought for Adivasi rights and he has fought to bring naxals to the mainstream. There are also examples of him fighting against the government over the rights of naxals. But those opposing are saying he is a naxal. So, we have asked if there is any letter from a court stating he is a naxal," Kundur Ashok, president of the district unit of KSP, Chikkamagaluru
The state government had withheld funds from the festival over this issue but the organisers managed to pool in money and continue planning the event. Karnataka Tourism Minister CT Ravi, who is from Chikkamagaluru, said that the appointment of Kulkuli Vittal Hegde was opposed due to his track record. "The state government considered him for a Rajyotsava Award in 2018 but did not go ahead due to his track record as per the police department. This was during the Congress-JD(S) government's tenure," CT Ravi said
On Thursday, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) issued a circular stating that official duty facility given to teachers for attending the event was now cancelled.
Pro-Hindu groups including the Bajrang Dal and VHP intended to hold their own literary event in Chikkamagaluru opposing the KSP event however, police have denied permission for both events.