Kan­cha Ila­iah gets threats for ‘abu­sive’ book

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

Prom­i­nent “Dalit-Bahu­jan” writer Kan­cha Ila­iah has sought pro­tec­tion from Hy­der­abad po­lice as he re­ceived “death threats” af­ter his Tel­ugu book, Sa­ma­jika Smug­glerlu, Ko­ma­tollu (Vysyas, or Ba­nias are So­cial Smug­glers) was re­leased last week. Ila­iah com­plained to the Hy­der­abad po­lice on Tues­day that anony­mous call­ers threat­ened to kill him. His mo­bile phone is now switched off. How­ever, both TRS and TDP, rul­ing par­ties in Te­lan­gana and Andhra Pradesh, re­spec­tively, have sug­gested that he should ten­der an apol­ogy to the ag­grieved Vysyas for his book.

The book has mo­bilised the hith­erto docile Vysyas, mostly ki­rana shop own­ers and small traders, in the last one week to hold ral­lies and demon­stra­tions in both Te­lan­gana and Andhra Pradesh. As many as 30,000 Vysyas joined a protest rally in Miryalaguda in Te­lan­gana, while 25,000 held a meet­ing in Kurnool in AP. Arya Vysyas, who are pop­u­larly called Ko­ma­tollu in Tel­ugu, have lodged dozens of crim­i­nal cases against Ila­iah in both Te­lan­gana and AP, in protest against his book which ac­cused them of ex­ploit­ing the poor, amass­ing ill-got­ten wealth, avoid­ing join­ing the armed forces, etc. Sev­eral Vysya out­fits burnt Ila­iah’s ef­fi­gies and de­manded his ar­rest.

AP Chief Min­is­ter N. Chan­drababu Naidu told a del­e­ga­tion of Vysyas that the au­thor should apol­o­gise for his writ­ing and sug­gested that peo­ple should not read such books. In Te­lan­gana, Ir­ri­ga­tion Min­is­ter T. Har­ish Rao said that Ila­iah should apol­o­gise to the Vysyas for the abu­sive ti­tle of the book. TRS MLA Bee­gala Ganesh Gupta de­scribed the book as “full of poi­son”.

Ila­iah said that he was ready for an ide­o­log­i­cal de­bate on his book, but would not apol­o­gise. “I have done no crime, why should I apol­o­gise?” he said in a state­ment. Ila­iah’s de­fence of the book is that the phrase “so­cial smug­glers” was not deroga­tory, as he was sim­ply con­vey­ing the mes­sage that Vysyas had not done any­thing for the over­all ben­e­fit of so­ci­ety. Ila­iah urged the caste’s in­tel­lec­tu­als to write an­other book to counter his, in­stead of threat­en­ing to kill him.

Some Dalit and OBC groups and Left par­ties are sup­port­ing Ila­iah. Kaki Mad­hava Rao, for­mer chief sec­re­tary of AP, singer Gad­dar and CPM Te­lan­gana sec­re­tary Tam­mi­neni Veer­ab­hadram are seek­ing po­lice pro­tec­tion for him.

The book is part of a series of Tel­ugu trans­la­tions of his 2009 English work, Post- Hindu In­dia, and comes close on the heels of Ila­iah’s writ­ings against Brah­mins and some other up­per castes.

64-year-old Ila­iah re­tired from Os­ma­nia Univer­sity’s po­lit­i­cal sci­ence depart­ment eight years ago and is cur­rently as­so­ci­ated with Maulana Azad Urdu Univer­sity’s Cen­tre for So­cial Ex­clu­sion and In­clu­sion Pro­gramme in Hy­der­abad. Though he is of­ten de­scribed as a Dalit ide­o­logue, Ila­iah is an OBC of Kurma caste, a vari­ant of Ya­davs in Te­lan­gana.

Ila­iah, who re­cently added the suf­fix “Shep­herd” to his name, kicked off a storm two decades ago for his tirade against Brah­mins through his book, Why I am Not a Hindu. Ila­iah stated that the vast ma­jor­ity of OBCs, Dal­its and tribal pop­u­la­tion had noth­ing to do with Hin­duism, which was a cul­tural mo­nop­oly of Brah­mins and other up­per castes. Around three decades ago, Ila­iah was as­so­ci­ated with the ul­tra left groups, through the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Pro­tec­tion of Demo­cratic Rights, which was con­nected with a CPI(ML) group, Unity Cen­tre for Com­mu­nist Revo­lu­tion­ar­ies in In­dia Marx­ist-Lenin­ist. Ila­iah dis­tanced him­self from the ul­tra left af­ter OBCs got reser­va­tions in early 1990s. He then chose to side with Dalit and Bahu­jan pol­i­tics.

Ini­tially, Ila­iah was an ad­mirer of Naren­dra Modi when the lat­ter be­came the Chief Min­is­ter of Gu­jarat for the rea­son that he rep­re­sented the grow­ing clout of OBCs in BJP, but later changed his stance by say­ing that Modi rep­re­sented Hin­dutva forces. Ila­iah’s crit­ics al­lege that he acts at the be­hest of Western and Church based out­fits. Ila­iah adding Shep­herd at his name’s end is seen as an ex­am­ple of his ef­fort to come closer to Chris­tian NGOs, as the suf­fix re­flects Je­sus Christ’s life. The Hy­der­abad po­lice is keep­ing a watch on the meet­ings protest­ing the de­por­ta­tion of Ro­hingya Mus­lims in Hy­der­abad for the past few days. Such meet­ings and round- ta­ble con­fer­ences have in­creased af­ter the Cen­tre told the Supreme Court that the il­le­gal im­mi­grants from Myan­mar posed a se­cu­rity threat to the coun­try and that they would be sent back soon.

The All In­dia Ma­jlis It­te­hadul Mus­limeen (AIMIM), All In­dia Ma­jlis Bachao Tehreek (AIMBT), Wel­fare Party, Congress, TDP and the Left par­ties have re­cently be­come vo­cal in de­mand­ing that the BJP-led NDA govern­ment should not de­port Rohingyas from here, on hu­man­i­tar­ian grounds. Mus­lim out­fits like Ja­mait-e-Is­lam Hind are back­ing the de­mand.

The Hy­der­abad po­lice, with in­puts from the Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (NIA), are look­ing into whether there are any be­hind the scenes or­gan­i­sa­tions that were mo­bil­is­ing sup­port for the Rohingyas. “We are aware of the role of some NGOs work­ing for Rohingyas, but we are watch­ing if there are any in­vis­i­ble out­fits with links to ter­ror net­work,” an of­fi­cial with the Spe­cial Branch po­lice told The Sun­day Guardian.

There are cer­tain NGOs like Con­fed­er­a­tion of Vol­un­tary As­so­ci­a­tions (COVA) which are work­ing for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of Rohingyas in the Old

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