Washington, Oct 1: An umbrella body of Indian-American progressive organisations here has strongly condemned the attack on renowned Dalit scholar Kancha Ilaiah. The Alliance for Justice And Accountability (AJA) has demanded 24-hour security for the world-renowned Dalit writer and academician.
“The attack was an attempt on the life of the outspoken political philosopher who has authored several books including ‘Why I am not a Hindu,’ ‘Buffalo Nationalism Post-Hindu India,’ ‘Untouchable God,’ among many others,” said AJA in a media statement on Saturday.
A mob of around 200 people had reportedly tried to attack Ilaiah when he was travelling in his car in Parkal town in Warangal district of Telangana last week. The attackers were allegedly from the Arya Vysya community who were angry over a book of Iaiah who is Director, Al-Beruni Centre for Social Excellence and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad.
“The police’s bias and refusal to uphold the law in defense of an intellectual bodes ill for the safety and security of common citizens in India and for the future of political dissent,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an AJA-constituent.
“That a sitting member of Parliament called for violence against a renowned scholar is reflective of the extent to which a fascist mindset has taken root amongst sections of the Indian political class,” added Mr. Khan.
In mid-September, TG Venkatesh, a parliamentarian from Andhra Pradesh’s ruling Telugu Desam Party, had held a press conference in Hyderabad and allegedly threatened Ilaiah for his controversial book related to the Arya Vysya community. Venkatesh comes from the community.
“An attack against one of the most renowned Dalit scholars, writers and thinkers is outrageous and an affront to freedom of speech. People are not tolerant and open to criticism when information challenges Hindu doctrine,” said Umang Kumar, a member of AJA.
AJA has demanded court ordered 24-hour protection of Prof. Kancha Illaiah, and accountability for those that threatened his life, under the full extent of the law.
Questioning the silence of the mainstream Indian media on the attack, it said the silence “is telling of an atmosphere where expression of any ideas that go against the Hindutva narrative creates security risks.”