“To kill me or hang me as they do in the Middle East”: a ‘fatwa’ on Kancha Ilaiah for a book chapter

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Exactly 15 days ago, Gauri Lankesh perished at her door step. Her killers shot her at pointblank range and vanished into the darkness that India is beginning to revel in.

Now, the political scientist Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd has alleged a threat to his life, in the form of a fatwa, for allegedly denigrating the Arya Vysya community in a chapter in his book titled Samajika Smugglurlu Komatollu (Vysyas are social smugglers).

Below is the full text of an email Ilaiah, currently director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at Maulana Azad National Urdu University in Hyderabad, has sent (loosely edited).

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“T.G. Venkatesh, an extremist Arya Vysya leader held a press conference on Monday, September 18, in a luxury hotel in Hyderabad with an extremist, conspiratorial Arya Vysya team and declared a Fatwa on me.

“That he would kill or hang me in the streets as they do in the Middle East.

“This person is a Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament from the Telugu Desam Party and is rumoured to be one of the richest men from that community in the two Telugu states, after Gandi Madhava Rao of the GMR group.

“Can an MP who issued a Fatwa against a citizen—that too a globally known writer and thinker—continue in Parliament? It is for the BJP and TDP to decide.

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“The myth that the Arya Vysya community is a peace-loving, non-violent community has proved to be wrong. This is clear from the violent statements that their leaders are issuing.

“It is also clear from their abusive and vulgar behaviour on the streets from villages to cities up to the State capitals, Amaravati and Hyderabad.

“They are 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 also.

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“The Arya Vysyas are the most organized caste in India with 46 per cent of the total wealth and 48 per cent of 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 called Vysya Bank in their caste name in India.

“They are attacking me for writing a chapter in my book called ‘Post-Hindu India‘ with the title ‘Social Smugglers’, a concept I coined to capture caste, cultural and economic exploitation in India, and translating it into Telugu.

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“I have been fighting for reservation in the private sector for long time, as there are no jobs in the state sector at all.

“We are now demanding jobs for all the kith and kin of the lowest-level soldiers serving on the borders of Pakistan and China, and also in the internal security sectors, at least one job for family in their firms, as a token of their nationalism, without going into the merit question that they have been raising all the time.

“We are also demanding at least one per cent of their total profit for a farmers’ fund for  the dying farmers across the country as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This is necessary because the States are also not in a position to protect them for paucity of funds.

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“For this, issuing a Middle East type of fatwa by an MP with the backing of the ruling establishments both at the state and national levels is a dangerous trend.

“This fatwa is issued under the nose of Telangana Government in which I am living.

“The government is silent giving an impression of complicity. For the last 10 days, from September 10 till date, I have been getting organized phone calls with abuses and vulgar SMSs. This is only to make me mad.

“Everyone knows that AirTel and Reliance telecom companies are in their hands.

“If any intellectual who stands by Dalits, Bahujans and the poor and asks for jobs in private companies, receives a fatwa that he be killed or hanged in the streets, the democracy and freedom of speech enshrined in the Constitution will be in real danger.

“Perhaps I may be the first person to die like that….

  1. Why is the Telangana government silent on this Fatwa?
  2. What is Chandrababu Naidu’s Stand on this Fatwa?
  3. 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 with reverence to Buddha and Ambedkar.

I would like to live and die here only.

I hope the nation responds.

Though filing a case seems to have no effect, I will file a case in the local police station on this Fatwa soon.

KANCHA ILAIAH SHEPHERD
Member T-MASS ( Telangana Masses)