‘In last three years, you can’t speak against the government and hope to reach home alive’

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As manufacturing consent becomes the sole objective of mainstream media, it is left to artists and artistes to become the Republic’s conscience-keepers.

On Monday, it was the actor Prakash Raj aka Prakash Rai.

Yesterday, it was the Kannada writer Kamala Hampana.

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Speaking at a seminar on the 10th century Jain poet Adikavi Pampa, who served in the court of the Chalukya king Arikesari II, the 72-year-old writer is reported by Praja Vani to have said:

“If one stands at a forum as an Indian and express the feelings in my mind, there is a fear that you may not reach home alive.

“An atmosphere has emerged where you cannot speak against the government and live to see the day.

“This is the situation for the last three years.

“In the time of Pampa, one could speak openly against the King. We are in the 21st century. We have a democratic system. But we have lost the freedom of expression.”

Since defending the defensible is the primary task of elected legislators and parliamentarians today, Kamala Hampana can expect a barrage.

Photograph: courtesy Dinesh Maneer

Screenshots: courtesy Praja Vani