New Delhi: THE Alliance for Justice And Accountability (AJA), an umbrella coalition of progressive organizations across the United States, on Saturday condemned the life-threatening attacks against renowned author and Dalit scholar Kancha Illaiah by members of the Arya Vysyas community. 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. The violence and ensuing death threats were apparently a response to the release of a chapter from his book on “Post-Hindu India.”
AJA has demanded court to order 24-hour protection of Professor Kancha Illaiah, and accountability for those that threatened his life, under the full extent of the law. The role of the police, who failed to even file a First Information Report (FIR), on Prof. Illaiah’s complaint needs further scrutiny. The life-threatening situation was exacerbated when a Member of Parliament from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) T.G. Venkatesh addressed a press conference against the author and sought that he be “hanged publicly.” The silence of mainstream Indian media is telling of an atmosphere where expression of any ideas that go against the Hindutva narrative creates security risks.
Instead of expressing remorse for the incident, J. Venkateshwar-President of Andhra Pradesh Arya Varsya Mahasahba (AVP) demanded an apology from Prof. Illaiah, failing which AVP would protest wherever Prof. Illaiah went in the state.
“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 Illaiah’s complaint, he stated that no FIR was registered in the matter by the police. After the attack Illaiah was followed by 200 protestors until he proceeded to Warangal city under a police escort. Illaiah put himself under house arrest in an effort to safeguard his life.
“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 ad community activist from Boston.
The Alliance for Justice and Accountability has pledged to work with people of all faiths to defend India from the onslaught of hate and divisiveness.