Stating that the police was setting a poor precedent, activists in Telangana have slammed the state police’s decision to ban controversial film critic Mahesh Kathi from entering Hyderabad for six months.
On Monday, the Telangana Director-General of Police announced that Mahesh Kathi would be 'externed' from entering the city for the next six months under the Telangana Prevention of Anti-Social and Hazardous Activities Act, 1980. The DGP said that the critic would be dropped off to his hometown, Chittoor, and cautioned that action would be taken against him if he enters the city during the period of his ban.
This move has been slammed by activists, who termed this measure ‘unconstitutional’ and asked for it to be revoked immediately.
Slamming Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Bahujana Prathighatana Vedika convenor Sujatha Surepally asked, “Is the state being run by KCR or Paripoornananda? This is ridiculous for the police to banish someone for expressing their views. Is this a democratic government?”
She alleged that Mahesh’s caste had played a role in this decision. “Nobody objected to Ranganayakamma when she wrote a book criticizing the Ramayana; even Babu Gogineni did not suffer like this from the Hindu right wing because they were upper castes.”
Mahesh is from the Madiga community.
“This is totally unconstitutional. The police doesn’t have the right to expel someone from a city because of their views. Only the High Court or Supreme Court can take such decisions,” said Professor PL Vishweshwar Rao, an activist and academician.
He further said that such a move was unprecedented, and everyone should be object to it.
It all began after Kathi Mahesh allegedly made derogatory comments against Lord Rama and Sita during a debate on a regional news channel.
Even as police complaints were filed against the critic, Hindu seer Paripoornananda said that he will go to any extent to ensure Kathi Mahesh is arrested for humiliating Hindu sentiments.
Since then the two groups continued to exchange words, amid rising tension.
Opposing the fact that Mahesh Kathi had been termed as an ‘anti-social element’, activist Sajaya Kakarla said that the government had made a grave error in banning Mahesh.
“It is Paripoornananda who is an anti-social element, but even he shouldn’t be punished with such ridiculous measures. Mahesh Kathi is not an anti-social element, it is the government which is anti-social.”
Professor G Haragopal, a noted civil rights activist, condemning the Telangana government and said, “This is the rise of fascism, where people with differing views are exiled.”
Mahesh was participating in a debate about a sedition case filed against rationalist Babu Gogineni, when he said, “For me, Ramayana is just another story…I believe Rama is as much a cheater (dagulbhaji) as he is ideal in that story. And I think perhaps Sita would have been better, might have gotten justice if she had stayed with Ravana. What’s wrong with that?”
Later, several Hindu right-wing groups issued death threats to him and asked him to apologize. However, as Mahesh remained defiant.
In retaliation, Paripoornananda, a self-proclaimed baba, planned to take out a rally against Mahesh, but the police denied permission for the same.