Hate’s tryst with destiny – Prof. Kalburgi’s Murder

There has been a prominent resurgence of the hindu right wing, all over India but especially in Karnataka, in launching a relentless campaign of hate and murder with a view to curtailing the fundamental freedoms of all people, but specially writers, activists and minorities. This  campaign is being carried out by an army of hooligans recruited by the Sangh Parivar. This reminds me of the “army of the dead” from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel Lord of the Rings, which portrays an army of the dead that is continually evolving itself by spreading falsified lies, distortion of history and spewing hate with the sole motive of stifling political dissent.  In the case of the sangh parivar, the aim is to recruit newer people into and ultimately preparing the battle ground for the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra. This is happening at a time when the Indian state is preoccupied in pushing ahead the anti-people, pro corporate policies down the throats of the marginalised.

The voices of protest of rationalists, intellectuals and activists against these crimes are invariably met with venomous ridicule and hate, both offline and online. This is evinced in the way the army of the sangh parivar has systematically targeted the Human Rights Activist John Dayal by sharing his contact details and inviting their supporters to launch crude abuse at the activist; by sending letters of threat to the rationalist writer K.S. Bhagwan in Mysore; by physically assaulting Suresh Bhat of Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike and Pattabhi Somayaji for their strong voices of condemnation of the sangh parivar, by smearing their faces with cow dung. The killing of Kalburgi is the most heinous instance of this campaign of hatred.

Prof. Kalburgi was shot dead by unidentified assailants at his home in Dharwad on August 30. Kalburgi was known for his extensive research on the 12th century old Vachanas, the literary work of saint Basava. Kalburgi established through his research that the Lingayat community, which the sangh parivar has co-opted into the hindu fold, is in fact not a part of Hindu society. In his scriptures saint Basava stood against idol worship, temple construction and the brahminical caste system. According to activist and writer H S Anupama, the Killing of Kalburgi is an act of silencing Kalburgi’s rational convictions.  The killing of Kalburgi is not only a restriction of right to Freedom of Speech but also one among many other acts of violence, carried out both by State actors and non state actors, to silence rationality with bullets.

The right wing hooligans of the sangh parivar have smeared cow dung on the faces of people, chopped off hands of dissidents, killed protestors all for daring to assert their right to question the hindu fundamentalists. Literary critic M M Basheer and Writer Perumal Murugan were forced to disown their work, which in fact meant the “death” of their work. After the Congress government came to power in Karnataka, they have propagated a kind of soft hindutva which has reaped them rich benefits. In this process, the State government of Karnataka has abdicated it’s secular and democratic character, and allowed it’s institutions to be saffronised.

The present political climate is not a sudden occurrence, but rather the result of changes in social context brought about by the advent of hindutva. It has created a kind of mindset among its followers for whom inflicting pain on others and silencing dissent are seen as heroic acts. Even before Kalburgi’s murder, there were any number of atrocious acts carried out by the hooligans of the sangh parivar that showed what this “army of the dead” is capable of, in mutating harmonious co-existence to relations of hate.

In Karnataka, the RSS and its allies have launched a number of events and campaigns in order to dominate public spaces and establish their pre eminent hold on the imagination of the average hindu. They have engaged themselves with the conduct of Hindu Festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi, and navarathi which are occasions of intercommunal amity but which have turned into events that divide and pitch one community against another, thereby ghettoising masses and mobilising them for vote bank politics.  Similarly, the ritual of Khadga Deekshe and Hindu Samajotsava wherein men from the Hindu Community are called upon to be protectors of Hindu Society and Hindu Women instils in them a paranoia about the other communities and, a reductive perception of their women as mere property needing protection. There is a constant engagement with public spaces through Bill Boards, Banners and leaflets with slogans exhorting them to shed hindu blood for the creation of a hindurashtra. All this only reaffirms a pseudo patriotism which is measured in terms of one’s commitment to Hindutva.  Periodically, the sangh parivar launches campaigns such as Love Jihad, Conversion, “Gow Raksha”, immoral policing, aggressive vegetarianism and the scare about muslim population outstripping hindus. These campaigns are launched among different caste communities in order to play on their everyday fears and concerns about their future in order to mobilise them in the service of a larger entity, the Hindurashtra. The sangh parivar has also succeeded in getting the attention of the media and has utilised the prime time debates to reach out to wider audiences.

In the last nine months, in both Udupi and Mangalore combined there have been a total of 136 communal incidents. Out of which 29 incidents are of immoral policing involving the sangh parivar  and 7 incidents of immoral policing involving muslim fundamentalists, 3 incidents alleging conversion, 15 incidents of cattle vigilantism, 5 hate speeches and 27 other communal incidents.   Despite all this, in Karnataka the State Government and the karavali police personnel continue to maintain a passive approach towards the perpetrators seriously failing to dealing with the situation before its gets out of control..

The state has remained a mute spectator to his massive mobilisation of the sangh parivar and in the process has eroded the values of secularism and democracy that it has committed to protect and re-vivify through its actions. The State has allowed critical reasoning in the public mind to be replaced by phobia and refusal to debate.

The act of killing Kalburgi is the culmination of the process by which Hindutva has entered into the minds of people and has normalised the notion that it is not abhorrent to kill someone who is perceived as anti – hindu.

By Robin Christoper J