[The following is a statement in support of scholar-activist Prof Kancha Ilaiah, who is under attack from a number of Hindutva organizations and against whom the Hyderabad police recently registered a case for ‘hurting religious sentiments’. The tendency to resort to police cases, in order to stifle any criticism of Hindutva and the regime has assumed menacing proportions, against which we stand firmly with Kancha Ilaiah. Those who wish to add their names to the statement and express solidarity may do so by adding them as comments.]
We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the continued harassment, attacks on and intimidation of Prof Kancha Ilaiah at the hands of various Brahmin / brahminical organizations, police and the state administration of Telengana for his political writings and views. We also hold responsible for this intimidatory environment, the Telugu media that reportedly published distorted and misleading reports of Prof Ilaiah’s speech.
While speaking at the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, a wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on May 14, 2016, at Vijayawada (Amaravathi), Prof. Ilaiah had said: “The Brahmins as a community have not contributed anything to the production process of the Indian nation. Even now their role in the basic human survival based productive activity is not there. On the contrary, they constructed a spiritual theory that repeatedly tells people that production is pollution.”
On the basis of this statement, the Brahmin Associations in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana not only burnt his effigies and issued statements of condemnation, but a mob landed up at his office and personally threatened him, allegedly under the guidance of IV Krishna Rao, Chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Brahmin Corporation. Following this, the Saroornagar police in Hyderabad booked a case against Professor Kancha Ilaiah for allegedly hurting Hindu sentiments. The police was acting on the directions of a district court in Ranga Reddy. Last year, a VHP activist filed a complaint against him for his article in a newspaper, titled ‘Devudu Prajasamya Vaadi Kaada’ (“Is God not a democrat?”) after which the Telangana police filed a case against him under Section 153 (A) and Section 295 (A), bowing to pressure from Hindutva organizations. Prof Ilaiah had to move the courts to get a stay order on criminal proceedings against him for merely writing that article.
Prof Ilaiah’s formidable scholarship includes iconoclastic works such as ‘Why I am not a Hindu’, ‘Post-Hindu-India’, ‘Buffalo Nationalism and Untouchable God’ and numerous other writings radically denouncing the caste system in India. It is deeply disturbing to note that a scholar of international repute who has inspired scholars and activists to look at our own history critically, and who relentlessly challenges dominant orthodoxies in the academia, is being targeted by state agencies acting in tandem with Hindutva organizations.
The intimidation of Prof Kancha Ilaiah should be seen as part of the ongoing process of criminalisation of dissent and suppression of freedom of expression which has received a boost under the current government. In this process, the law has repeatedly been turned into a surrogate for Hindutva politics. It is shocking that the Telangana government too has fallen prey to the majoritarian ambience and that its state institutions are backing Hindutva violence.
The politics of Hindutva, while hurting every living being’s dignity and sentiments, continuously claims to be the perpetual and universal victim. Dalits today cannot speak of the indignities and oppression that they have suffered at the hands of the Hindus – even that has become a matter of ‘hurt sentiments’ of dominant groups and castes.
We demand that this intimidation should be stopped and that the police should immediately withdraw police cases against Prof Ilaiah.
Name Organization/ Affiliation
1. Peter Ronald deSouza, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Dr S Radhakrishnan chair of the Rajya Sabha
2. Uma Chakravarti, feminist scholar and historian
3. Tanika Sarkar, Retired professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
4. Sumit Sarkar, Retired professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
5. Partha Chatterjee, Professsor, Columbia University and former director, CSSS Calcutta
6. Prabhat Patnaik, Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi.
7. Shivaji Panikkar, Professor, Ambedkar University, Delhi
8. Nivedita Menon, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
9. Janaki Nair, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru Unversity
10. Utsa Patnaik, Professor Emeritus , Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
11. Apoorvanand, Professor, Delhi University
12. Satish Deshpande, Professor, Delhi Unversity
13. J.Devika, Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Trivanddrum
14. Prathama Banerjee, Associate Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
15. Kalpana Kannabiran, professor and Director, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad
16. Ayesha Kidwai , Professor , Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
17. Mary John, Professsor, Centre for Women’s Development Studies
18. Ankita Pandey, Asstt Professor,Indraprastha College, Delhi University
19. Subhash Gatade, New Socialist Initiative
20. Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD
21. Abha Dev Habib, professor, Miranda house, Delhi University
22. Asad Zaidi Publisher, Three Essays Collective
23. Charu Gupta, Professor, University of Delhi
24. Anubhuti Maurya , Asstt Professor, Delhi University.
25. Dilip Menon, Director, Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
26. Nalini Taneja, Professor, University of Delhi
27. Pravin Kumar, Asstt Professor, Satyawati College, Delhi University
28. Jayati Ghosh, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
29. Arunima G, Professor ,Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi.
30. Harish Wankhede, Asstt Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi
31. Chirashree Dasgupta, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi.
32. C.P. Chandrasekhar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi
33. Surajit Mazumdar , Professor ,Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi
34. Rohit Azad, Asstt Professor ,Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi.
35. Surajit Das, Asstt Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi.
36. Manisha Sethi, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association, NewDelhi.
37. Mona Das, Asstt Professor, Delhi University
38. Rachna Singh, Asstt Professor, Hindu College, Delhi University
39. Mahesh Gopalan, Asstt Professor, St Stephens College, Delhi University.
40. Parth Pratim Shil, Asstt Professor, Delhi University.
41. Ena Panda , Asstt Professor, Delhi University.
42. Atul Sood, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi.
43. Navsharan Singh , Researcher and activist, New Delhi
44. Kavita Srivastava , People Union for Civil Liberties.
45. Wrick Mitra, Assistant Professor, Ambedkar University , Delhi
46. Rohit Negi,Assistant Professor, Ambedkar University , Delhi
47. Shuddhabrata Snegupta, artist and independent writer
48. Anshumita Pandey, Assistant Professor, Ambedkar University , Delhi
49. K Velentina, Assistant Professor, Ambedkar University , Delhi
50. Aditya Nigam, Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
51. Mamatha Karollil, Assistant Professor, Ambedkar University , Delhi
52. Sunalini Kumar, Asst Professor, University of Delhi
53. Shifa Haq, Assistant Professor, Ambedkar University , Delhi
54. Rachana Johri, Associate Professor, Ambedkar University, Delhi
55. Arindam Banerjee, Associate Professor,Ambedkar University, Delhi
56. Anita Ghai, Professor, Ambedkar University, Delhi
57. Sumangala Damodaran, Professor, Ambedkar University, Delhi.
58. Dhiraj Kumar Nite, Asstt Professor, Ambedkar University, Delhi
59. Tanuja Kothiyal, Professor, Ambedkar University, Delhi
60. Janaki Srinivasan, Asst Professor,Punjab University
61. Achin Vanaik Retired Professor, University of Delhi
62. Pamela Philipose Senior Journalist
63. Anil Chaudhary, PEACE
64. Shipra Nigam, Researcher, New Delhi
65. Udaya Kumar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
66. Rohini Hensman, writer and independent scholar
67. Nandini Sundar, Professor, University of Delhi