A number of progressive Kannada writers have been receiving threat letters for their work and are set to meet Karnataka home minister G. Parameshwara to seek protection.
The writers have been receiving handwritten letters in Kannada against their work or comments. The letters are generally signed off as “Sahishnu Hindu” (tolerant Hindu), and in some cases urged them not to associate themselves with certain writers such as S.G. Siddaramaiah, Bargur Ramachandrappa and Kum. Veerabhadrappa, all critics of the Hindutva ideology.
Noted writer K. Marulasiddappa, in a letter to the home minister, has said that around 15 writers have been receiving letters threatening to harm them if they do not desist from commenting and writing against Hindutva ideology.
The writers are set to meet Parameshwara on Saturday in light of the latest threats. The state has already witnessed two fatal attacks in the past — while rationalist scholar and noted writer M.M. Kalburgi was shot dead in August 2015 at his home in Dharwad, journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot and killed while entering her home in Bangalore in September 2017.
Upon receiving the letter from Marulasiddappa, Parameshwara has directed the state police chief to provide adequate security cover for all these writers and assess threat perceptions to all progressive writers.
Banjagere Jayaprakash told reporters that he has received 13 such letters since June 2022 while Vasundhara Bhoopati said she has lodged a police complaint after receiving a letter warning her against associating with progressive writers such as S.G. Siddaramaiah, Bargur Ramachandrappa and Kum. Veerabhadrappa.
Parameshwara said the threats have been taken “very seriously and I will get more details on the threats once I meet the writers”.
A 28-year-old medical representative named Prasad was arrested from Harihara in Davangere in May following an earlier set of threat letters. But his arrest didn’t stop the flow as some writers were targeted even later, indicating the involvement of more people.
While such threat letters are not new in the state, especially after the surge in Hindutva activities, the current spate of letters is apparently linked to a joint memorandum signed by 61 eminent personalities, including these writers, and sent to then chief minister Basavaraj Bommai of the BJP against raking up communal issues.
In the memorandum written in the backdrop of the hijab row, the signatories had objected to how Muslim vendors were being banned at Hindu temple fairs.
They had also objected to Bhagavad Gita being made mandatory in schools and urged the government to teach the principles of the Constitution instead.
Noted writer and rationalist K.S. Bhagawan, who has been living under police security for several years, said he has not received any such threat letters of late. “I used to get them very often. But I didn’t get any of late,” he told The Telegraph on Friday. He urged the state government to investigate the matter and provide adequate protection to the writers.
Arvind Malagatti, renowned Kannada poet, said he has not been targeted this time. “But I have been a target for a long time. Some send letters, others make threatening phone calls,” he said.
“What these people are doing in the name of ‘sahishnute’ (tolerance) is actually ‘asahishnute’ (intolerance). These are acts of people who are really intolerant,” he said.