Controversy
Protests have also erupted against BJP MP Pratap Simha, as Facebook fan pages supporting him have also shared the controversial Postcard article.
Statue of Kittur Chenamma. By Suma/Flickr via Wiki Commons

A major row has erupted in Karnataka over a controversial article posted on the Kannada website of Postcard News, allegedly making derogatory comments against Kannada women warriors.  

After an FIR was lodged against the administrators of the Postcard website a few days ago, the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike took out a protest rally in Belagavi on Sunday. The article, they alleged, defamed Kannada warrior heroes like Kittur Rani Chennamma and Onake Obavva.

According to the complaint made by a person named Kavana Basavakumar, the website administrators had written in an article that ‘Kittur Rani Chennamma had illicit relationship with the British and Onake Obavva shared a bed with Hyder Ali’, The New Indian Express reported. The complaint urged police to take action against the website for hurting the sentiments of women and those who look up to these historical figures.

The article was also published on the Postcard News website, but has since been deleted, reported Alt News. Alt News also published a screenshot of the article’s write-up showing the controversial statements. The screenshot shows the title of the article as reading, “Kittur Rani Chennamma had an illicit relationship with the British and Onake Obavva shared a bed with Hyder Ali, doesn’t this make you angry, then why doesn’t the Kannada film industry get angry about stories like this?”  

The protest organised by the Vedike also targeted BJP MP from Mysuru, Pratap Simha. Over the last week, several protests have targeted the MP as Facebook pages supporting him also shared the Postcard Kannada article.

A complaint against him  was also filed with the Bengaluru Police Commissioner by the state Congress IT cell, alleging that the MP had hurt the feelings of Kannadigas.

The piece was shared by Facebook pages with names like ‘I support Pratap Simha’. It was also shared, according to screenshots posted by Alt News, by Facebook pages named ‘I Support BJP’ and ‘Narendra Modi fans from Karunadu’.

However, Simha had earlier tweeted that he has nothing to do with the ‘I support Pratap Simha’ page, or other fan pages in his name.

Addressing the media earlier, Pratap said that a fan, who had presumably started the Facebook page, had made the problematic remarks about Kittur Chennamma and Onake Obavva while criticising the Bollywood film Padmavati. "I strongly condemn this act. I am not aware who did this. How can I be responsible for this post?" he said.

After the FIR was filed against Postcard, a counter trend started on Twitter on Sunday night, with many people supporting the website with the hashtag ‘We Support Postcard’. It was one of the top trends on the microblogging site on Sunday.

Postcard.news also published a rebuttal against the complaints against them. The idea behind their article, the rebuttal said, was to “feed some sense into the heads of these Kannada filmmakers.” Referring to the Padmavati controversy, which Postcard feels disrespects Rani Padmini, the rebuttal said that the Sandalwood industry should not have supported director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The contentious article on Kannadiga women warriors was to ask how the Kannada filmmakers would feel if “something degrading about Rani Chennamma and Onake Obavva was filmed”, the rebuttal said.

“You must have realised the necessity to use such a harsh title to shake Sandalwood Film-makers out of their sleep,” said the rebuttal, addressing Postcard readers.

This is not the first time that Postcard News or one of its subsidiary websites has plunged into controversy over articles published by them. Various outlets have previously questioned the authenticity of articles on Postcard on earlier occasions, including Alt NewsNewslaundry and others.