Dr B.P. Mahesh Chandra Guru, a professor in the Department of Communications and Journalism, University of Mysore, was arrested on Friday, 16 June, after a complaint was filed against him for “insulting Lord Ram” when he spoke at a function last year.
It is noteworthy that FORWARD Press also has had to face state repression in the recent past. On 9 October 2014, the police raided the magazine office and harassed its editors Ivan Kostka and Pramod Ranjan, accusing them of stirring up religious hostility and spreading animosity between Brahmins and the Other Backward Castes (OBC).
Prof Guru has written regularly for the FORWARD Press magazine. In an article titled “Ambedkar and the media: To empower, not to hero-woship” that was part of the December 2015 Ambedkar Special, he wrote, “Ambedkar was a great communicator. His observation on the Indian press provides a glimpse of his perception and practice which are upheld with great reverence by those who consider the media as an instrument of human progress.”
He had also joined scores of other intellectuals at Chamundi Hills in October last year to celebrate Mahishana Habba. Addressing the audience, he had said, “Mahisha was indeed a Buddhist-Bahujan king who ruled Mahisha Mandala on the basis of human values and progressive ideologies. He was a symbol of equality and justice … The brahmanical forces are bent upon doing injustice to history and retaining the status quo have created the fictitious story of the killing of Mahishashura by Chamundeswari. The celebration of Mahishana Habba is the beginning of the Dasara festival of the indigenous people. From now on, the indigenous people will be celebrating a festival in honour of Mahisha, not Dussehra.”
On the 2016 New Year’s Day, Koregaon Victory Day celebrations were held for the first time in Mysur. Prof Guru, the chief guest at the event, said, “The vested interests have buried the real history of India to keep themselves at the helm of affairs without shedding even a drop of sweat and blood. Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vachana literature, rebel literature and the Constitution of India, which represent the greatest wisdom and human values, were produced by the indigenous people. They have also produced national wealth and political power with great sacrifice, but they have been marginalized in the country by the brahmanical and capitalist forces in the post-Independence era.”
Earlier this year, Professor Guru had invited the wrath of the BJP by criticizing Prime Minister Modi and Union Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani at a meeting held in memory of Rohith Vemula in Mysuru. Then, the general secretary of the Karnataka state BJP SC Morcha Chi Na Ramu had filed a complaint against him with the Bengaluru Police for his “derogatory remarks”.
So, an Ambedkarite now languishes in a Karnataka jail as BJP, the party in power at the Centre, and the Congress, the party in power in Karnataka, spar over co-opting Ambedkar himself.