Prominent writer and intellectual Kancha Ilaiah is allegedly facing threats to his life from Arya-Vysya community organisations for writing the book Samajika smugglurlu komatollu. With the outbreak of protest demonstrations in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh demanding a ban on the book, Ilaiah said that his freedom of speech and expression is being eroded.
Ilaiah slammed the protests against him at a press meet in Hyderabad on Wednesday. “My brain will not tremble to the continuous torture of their abuses, or by their act of burning my effigies on streets”, he said. “Until and unless Ambedkar-Phule ideology is accepted by the society, my struggle for equality will continue through my writings till the last minute of my life”.
“Their act of burning my effigy is an insult to the spirit of the Indian constitution which enshrines in it the right to freedom of speech and expression. If they disagree with any of my writings, they can fight in courts or can democratically debate over it. Instead their leaders are giving death threats”, he added. He also questioned the governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for allowing the ongoing hate demonstrations in the last three days.
Earlier on Tuesday, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu discussed the issue with Director General of Police (DGP) N Sambasiva Rao at the Secretariat. However, no official statement was made by the government.
In a complaint lodged with the Osmania University Police station on September 11, Ilaiah said that he had received death threats from the Arya-Vysya organisations and sought immediate police protection. “I feel terribly threatened with their abuses, phone calls, messages and so on”, he said.
The Arya-Vysya associations are demanding a ban on Ilaiah’s book Samajika smugglurlu komatollu (“Vysyas are social smugglers”). They claimed that the title and content of the book have derogatory elements with regards to their community.
The term ‘social smuggling’ used in the title was coined by Ilaiah as an “Indian English concept”, referring to the role of certain castes as ‘middlemen’ in trading. The book is a Telugu translation of Ilaiah’s book Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution, published in 2010. The book deals with “the intellectual imagination of the dominant communities” and is a critique of Brahmanism and the caste system in India.
Condemning the targeting of Ilaiah by the Arya-Vysya leaders, CPI(M) Telangana State Secretary Tammineni Veerabhadram opined that this particular attack is an abuse of constitutional rights and freedom of expression.
“Since Ilaiah has been critical of the ideology of RSS-BJP, their role is clearly visible in instigating hate among the Vysya community leaders against his writings,” he said in a press conference.
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