Some have strongly criticized the case, but stopped short of laying the blame on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Is sedition case against Amnesty sign of rising fascism in Ktaka Intellectuals splitFile photo: Facebook/Amnesty International
news News Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - 08:45

Karnataka’s intellectual landscape has been rent apart by the sedition case against Amnesty International India over its recent event on Kashmir. Some have strongly criticized the case, but stopped short of laying the blame on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Others were unsparing in their criticism of the Congress government and Siddaramaiah’s role in it.

With the sedition case filed against Amnesty India over its ‘Broken Families’ event in Bengaluru on Saturday, parallels are being drawn with the events at JNU in February, where “anti-India” slogans were raised during a university event on Kashmir.

Writer Kum Veerabhadrappa, who returned his Sahitya Akademi Award over the murder of scholar MM Kalaburgi, told The News Minute that the case against Amnesty was “questionable”.

The BJP at the centre had emboldened “Hindutva fundamentalists” to harass and intimidate people. “The Chief Minister should take a tough stance against this,” Veerabhadrappa said.

On the Congress’ stated position that it was a secular party that did not bow down to the Sangh, Veerabhadrappa said: “The Sangh is targeting leftists. This (case) is a conspiracy against Siddaramaiah. This country is not just for one group of people.”

A translator and literary critic agreed to be interviewed for this story on the condition of anonymity as she has a government job. While she was critical of the filing of the FIR, she too stopped short of criticizing the Congress government for the state of affairs. “It is a conspiracy against the Chief Minister,” she said, arguing that JNU and the Amnesty events were not comparable as there was a clear attempt to misinterpret what transpired at JNU.

State Secretary of the Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike (KKSV) and Advocate Robin Christopher however, says this attitude reflects the confusion that the state’s intellectuals are in. For many years, the Vedike has made efforts to maintain communal harmony across various parts of the state.

Not just the sedition case on Amnesty, but Siddharamaiah government's action on different issues has left thinkers in the state divided.

When the Congress came to power in May 2013, many breathed a sigh of relief. The state still was reeling from the allegations of corruption that chased the heels of many BJP leaders, as well as the allegations that the BJP’s five-year rule had stoked communal fires. This sigh of relief turned into a mountain of expectations when the party appointed Siddaramaiah as the chief minister. As a politician, Siddaramaiah stands tall among the leaders of Karnataka, held in high regard by many intellectuals and writers in the state who have known him closely for his involvement in people’s movements during his days with the Janata parivar.

But it is precisely this situation which has resulted in a “deafening silence” over the lapses of the Congress government, especially on the rights of marginalized groups and minorities.

“Many of them are in a pit hole. They expected that the Congress would uphold its Constitutional obligations and put a full stop to the communal problems. But this government is such a failure, that not only has it not put an end to these problems, but it’s actually dancing to the tunes of the RSS and acting like the BJP,” says Robin.

He said that the FIR against Amnesty was a case in point. Calling the FIR “ridiculous”, Robin said that the police had invoked provisions concerning conspiracy when Amnesty had intimated the police about the event. ADGP Charan Reddy told the media on Tuesday that Amnesty’s event was not unlawful as they had intimated the police. “The police and the government have fallen for a gimmick.”

Because of this attitude of the government, he said, the intellectual class did not know what to do. “They are unhappy with the government, but they’ve confused Siddaramaiah with the Congress. They’re very happy with Siddaramaiah sitting there (as CM). They don’t know who their enemy is. With the BJP, it was very clear. When there are attacks on cattle traders and others during the BJP’s tenure, there are loud protests. But now, they’re all silence because they can directly go and meet members of the government,” says Robin.

Although he maintains that he has great regard for Siddaramaiah, writer Chandrashekar Patil agrees. “There were a lot of expectations from Siddaramaiah. But the performance of the government is disappointing. Qualitatively, the Congress is not very different from the BJP. It’s well known that one is soft Hindutva and the other is strong Hindutva. The mindset of both parties is the same; their leaders come from similar social and religious backgrounds. The difference is only on paper,” Chandrashekar says.

He agrees that the silence of several writers on the many lapses of the Siddaramaiah government was partly because they had joined the government in various capacities. “When governments come to power, there are always writers who will head towards Vidhan Soudha. They become part of the establishment.”

Veerabhadrappa says that such writers would be about 2 percent. “Many supported BS Yeddyurappa when he made pro-Kannada decisions, but denounced him over the corruption allegations. A writer who doesn’t put the establishment in the witness box and question can no longer be called a writer,” Veerabhadrappa said.

Chandrashekar Patil however, said that he kept both Congress and BJP at a distance. “Both parties have been equally disappointing. Gandhi was killed in 1947 and I became anti-BJP. after the Emergency, I became anti-Congress. I am anti-establishment.” 


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