Sanjeev Chandan | Courtesy Forward Press
Are the Hindutva forces all over the country bubbling with enthusiasm? So it seems, given that they have launched a virulent campaign to suppress every voice that opposes their hegemonic ideas and designs. Their different groups are trying to silence every voice of reason â€“ either through use of force or by misusing state agencies. The latest in the series is the arrest of B.P. Mahesh Chandra Guru, the countryâ€™s first Dalit-Buddhist professor of media studies.
Why the arrest?
More than a year ago, on 3 January 2015, while speaking on Media and Human Rights at a workshop for teachers organized under the auspices of the University Grants Commission (UGC) at Mysore University, the Ambedkarite professor, Guru, had criticized Ram (famous IndianÂ mythical character). He said, â€œRam ofRamayana had violated human rights. He suspected Sitaâ€™sÂ fidelity and victimized her. I see this as a violation of human rights.â€ He also said that the media presented Ram as an ideal person, which was not correct. In the workshop itself, Appaji Gowda, an assistant professor of anthropology, had opposed him. According to Dileep Kumar, a student of the university, Appaji provoked Ravishankar of Karnadu Sarvodaya Sena to get a case registered against Guru on the same day. A real-estate businessman, Ravishankar got the complaint registered at the Jayalaksmipuram police station. In the days that followed, Prof Guru launched a front against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union HRD minister Smriti Irani on the issue of Rohith Vemulaâ€™s suicide , which was unpalatable to Modi followers and brahmanical forces. It was against this backdrop that a Mysore court ordered his arrest.
He was arrested when he appeared in the court for a hearing on the case. The judge was angry that he had not appeared for the two earlier hearings. He could not attend the hearings because of academic preoccupations.
Â Who is Professor Guru?
Professor B.P. Mahesh Chandra Guru is the first Dalit-Buddhist professor of media studies. He has been teaching journalism for the past three decades. He has also served in important administrative positions at the state and national levels. He was a member of the Karnataka Public Services Commission and Union Public Services Commission and of many UGC committees. He has published more than tenÂ books in Kannada and English. Professor Guru has been an active participant in movements and discourses informed by Dalitbahujan consciousness. He has been consistently raising his voice against the Hindutvavadi assaults on thought and reason. On 13 June, he had written a piece for FORWARD Press condemning the lodging of a case against Dalit thinker Kancha Ilaiah. Little did he know that he too would fall prey to the Hindutvavadi scheming within the next couple of days and end up behind bars.
Â Friend of Mahishasur Movement
Professor Guru believes that Mahishasur was a Buddhist ruler and that Mysore is named after him. According to him, â€œIn 245 BC, Buddhist emperor Ashoka had dispatched a Buddhist monk Mahadeva to â€œMahishamandalâ€ of Karnataka. Later, a ruler called Mahisha founded the Mahishamandal state. There is a lot of evidence to prove the historicity of Mahishaâ€™s rule, though there is no evidence that Chamundeshwari Devi (Durga) murdered him. Brahmanvadis branded him as â€˜Asurâ€™.â€ Recently, Professor Guru and his friends observed Mahishasur Martyrdom Day in Mysore. A detailed article by Professor Guru, contending that Mahishasur was a Buddhist, has been included in a forthcoming bookMahishasur: Debrahmanizing a Myth. The book has been edited by Pramod Ranjan, editor of FORWARDPress.
Intellectuals condemn arrest
Dalit thinker Kancha Ilaiah, human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, economist Jayati Ghosh, sociologist Shamshul Islam, Ram Puniyani, Anand Swaroop Verma, Kumar Prashant, S. Anand, Ratan Lal, writer and critic Kanwal Bharati, Prayag Shukla, Rajesh Joshi, Manglesh Dabral, Jitendra Bhatia, Sudhir Suman, Bajrang Bihari Tiwari, Kripashankar, Farid Khan, Amlendu Upadhyaya, Sanjay Jothe, social activist Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Anurag Modi, Preetam Singh, Girijeshwar Prasad, Badal Saroj and Nawal Kumar among othersÂ haveÂ condemned the arrest.