Prof Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is among the foremost, most outspoken critics of caste discrimination in India today. He is also an OBC, a Dalitbahujan and an Asur and has been, over the years, at the receiving end of numerous threats from upper-caste (Arya) nationalists for his hard-hitting books like Why I am not a Hindu and Post-Hindu India and for his initiatives like the ‘Asur week’ in Osmania University, Hyderabad. It’s for a chapter on the Vysyas in Post-Hindu India that he got the latest death threat, this time from a Telugu Desam Party MP, who said he would “kill or hang me in the streets as they do in the Middle East”. The irony of the situation is that the police are now planning to take action against Kancha Ilaiah. Given his predicament, Kancha Ilaiah issued a press note. Read on. It has been edited for clarity.
TDP MP T.G VENKATESH ISSUES FATWA TO KILL KANCHA ILAIAH SHEPHERD
T.G. Venkatesh, an extremist Arya Vysya leader, along with an extremist, conspiratorial Arya Vysya team, held a press conference on 18 September 2017 at a luxury hotel in Hyderabad and declared a fatwa on me saying that he would kill or hang me in the streets as they do in the Middle East. This person is an MP from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and supposed to be the second richest man from that community, after Gandi Madhava Rao (GMR), in the two Telugu states. Can a Member of Parliament who issued a fatwa against a citizen – that too a globally known writer and thinker – continue in the Parliament as a member? It is for the BJP and TDP to decide.
The myth that the Arya Vysya community is a peace-loving, non-violent community has been proven wrong. This is clear from the violent statements that their leaders have been issuing. It is also clear from their abusive and vulgar behaviour on the streets from the villages to cities – right up to the state capitals Amaravati and Hyderabad. They have been indulging in street vandalism. Both the states are freely allowing them to the point of creating a law and order situation. They seem to have no respect for the judiciary either.
They are the most organized caste in India with 46 per cent of the total wealth and 48 per cent of the company directors in their hands. The Ambani Group, Adani group, Laxmi Mittal, Vedanta and so on are part of this community. This is the only community that has a bank (Vysya Bank) named after its caste.
They have launched an attack on me for translating into Telugu a chapter in my book Post-Hindu India. The chapter is titled ‘Social Smugglers’, a concept I coined to explain the Vysyas’ caste cultural and economic exploitation in India. I have been fighting for reservation in the private sector for long time, as there are no jobs in the state sector. We are now demanding in the meetings of the T-MASS Forum (Telangana Mass and Social Organizations Forum), an organization formed three months ago, jobs for the kith and kin of the lowest-level soldiers serving on the borders with Pakistan and China and also in the internal security sectors, at least one job per family in their firms, as a token of their nationalism, without going into the question of MERIT we have been raising all the time. We are also demanding at least one per cent of their total profit for the FARMER’ S FUND for helping the farmers across the country SURVIVE and not kill themselves. This is necessary because the states are also not in a position to protect them. The states lack funds as they themselves have been saying. Farmer suicides are taking place all over India. This is part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
The issuing of this Middle-Eastern type of Fatwa by a Member of Parliament with the backing of the ruling establishments both at the state and national levels represents a dangerous trend. This fatwa has been issued under the nose of the Government of Telangana, the state where I am living. The government is silent, giving off the impression of complicity. For last 10 days, ie from 10 September 2017 to date, I’ve been receiving abusive phone calls and vulgar SMSes and the senders seem to be an organized lot. This is only to drive me mad. Everyone knows that AirTel and Reliance companies are in their hands.
If an intellectual who stands by the Dalitbahujans and the poor and asks for some jobs in private companies gets death threats (fatwa to kill and hang in the streets) from someone who is one of the richest people and an MP, the country and its democracy and freedom of speech that the Constitution guarantees is in real danger. I may end up being the first person to die like that.
In Andhra Pradesh, errachandanam (red sandalwood) is being smuggled without leaving a trace. Who knows? T.G. Venkatesh could be behind it. Who knows? He may be behind the killing of Gauri Lankesh and Kalburgi? Who knows the murderers could be hiding in the massive mansions he owns in Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh) and in Hyderabad? Who will investigate these things when both the State Government and Centre are with him?
- Why is the Telangana government silent on this fatwa?
- What is Chandrababu Naidu’s stand on this fatwa?
- What is the position of the central government headed by an OBC prime minister on this fatwa?
Based on this fatwa I can seek asylum in any country. But I am a nationalist who reveres Buddha and Ambedkar. I would like to live and die here only. I hope the nation responds. Though filing a case usually has no effect, I will file a case in the local police station on this Fatwa soon.
KANCHA ILAIAH SHEPHERD
Member T-MASS (Telangana Masses)
Prof Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd
Director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy,
Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Gachibowli, Hyderabad-32
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