The Gymkhana Grounds in Vijayawada has become the latest battleground in the controversy over writer and social scientist Kancha Ilaiah’s book Samaajika Smugglerlu Komatollu (Social Smugglers: Komatis).
Dalit-Bahujan and Arya Vaisya organisations are squaring off after both groups of organisations approached the Vijayawada city police to organise protest meetings on October 28 at the Gymkhana Grounds.
A coalition of Dalit and human rights organisations called the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice had applied to the Municipal Commissioner on October 9, for permission for an event at which Kancha Ilaiah was to be felicitated. Permission was granted to them on October 17. Armed with this permission, the JAC had approached the police for permission to conduct their event.
However, on Wednesday, Arya Vaisya Brahmana United Vedika also approached the police seeking permission for an anti-Kancha Ilaiah rally at the same venue on the same date.
The Vijayawada police has now denied permission for both events, on the grounds of possible disruptions to law and order. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC are also being imposed for a period of 45 days, till December 4.
"Section 144 and section 30 will be in force and both the groups leaders will be given notices in this regard," a media release from the City Police Commissioner’s office stated.
Dalit organisations, however, have criticised the police for denying permission to the pro-Kancha Ilaiah event. Speaking to TNM, Y Koteshwar Rao, Convener of the Kancha Ilaiah Solidarity-Samajika JAC said, "We procured permission from the Municipal Commissioner on the 17th itself for using the ground on October 28. How can others seek permission on the same day, and how can the police stop us citing that reason?"
"Police should stop them if there is any law and order issue, instead of denying permission to us," he added.
He also said that plans to hold the event have not yet been given up. "We still urge the police authorities to give us permission. We are not stepping back from conducting the programme," Koteswar Rao said.
Arya Vaisya organisations have been holding protests across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, seeking a ban on Kancha Ilaiah’s book, which they say propagates content derogatory towards their caste.
The social scientist has even faced physical attacks, with a crowd of protesters attacking him with slippers and stones at Bhupalapalli in Telangana on September 23.
The Supreme Court recently refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), that sought a a ban on the book, which is an excerpt from his 2009 book Post Hindu India, translated into Telugu.