The US representative for Arizona, Trent Franks, spoke about the death threats to Kancha Ilaiah and murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh while delivering a speech on October 12 in the US House of Representatives. Trent is a member of Republican Party in the United States.
He pointed, referring to the freedom of expression in the world, that “Individual Freedom of speech is frequently infringed. Posting a critique or sharing ones views freely on the internet can be punishable even by death”.
Speaking about Gauri Lankesh, he said that “She [Gauri Lankesh] was an establishment figure with a reputation for her fearless criticism of undemocratic elements within the parties in power. The Circumstances of her death were strikingly similar to the murders of three additional Indian activists.”
He then went on to talk about the death threats received by writer Kancha Ilaiah for his recent book on ‘Komati’ caste, an upper caste Hindu business community in Telugu States. “Professor Kancha Ilaiah, known for critiquing caste and social order was threatened by a Hindu member of Parliament (T.G.Venkatesh) of India’s parliament. This Member of Parliament who is an ally of the current BJP Government issued a statement that Kancha should be publicly hanged. (…) Kancha is now under self-imposed house arrest because he is simply not safe otherwise. Was professor Ilaiah’s crime significant?” the Congressman asked. “Ilaiah’s crime was being an author of ‘Why I’m not a Hindu’. He added.
Referring to Ilaiah’s 2009 released book in controversy ‘Post Hindu India’, in which the authoer criticised caste effects on the socio-economic situation, Trent said that these critiques of ilaiah are even more relevant in India’s current agrarian crisis that resulted in several farmers’ suicides due to hopelessness and a massive joblessness due to the demonitization in economic slowdown.
He said that the United States and the Entire Global community should be deeply concerned about the threat to the life of Professor Kancha Ilaiah while the Government of India should ensure his safety.
Supreme Court of India on 13-Oct-2017 has refused to ban Ilaiah’s book. The bench comprising Chief Justice Deepak Mishra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was dismissing the PIL by Mr K.L.N.V. Veeranjaneyulu who appeared as party in person. Judges pointed out that banning the book would amount to infringing on the freedom of expression and speech guaranteed by the Constitution.
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