AIPSN Statement on Intimidation and Threat of Rape on Karnataka Activist
The threat from Hindutva fundamentalist forces looms larger with each passing day. Obscurantist views on society such as support to khap panchayats, on the status and role of women such as playing down incidents of rape and blaming women or “western culture” for the same, on education such as textbooks glorifying an imagined past and advancing completely erroneous ideas on science and knowledge in ancient India, are all being advanced from different Hindutva quarters every day.
Contrary opinions or attempts to debate any of these issues are either simply steamrollered by the Hindutva forces or are increasingly met with extreme intolerance including physical intimidation and violence. Attacks on religious minorities under one guise or another assaults on women in public places ostensibly targeting their dress or behaviour, and violent disruption of cultural events or intellectual gatherings have become commonplace, with police and other government authorities often turning a blind eye to such gross violations of civil rights.
Efforts by many individuals and organizations including the Peoples Science Movement and others dedicated to promotion of scientific attitudes are also facing such attacks. The nation is still reeling from the dastardly murder of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar who was playing a leading role in drafting and steering a new anti-superstition Bill in Maharashtra.
The latest such attack has been on Ms. N. Prabha, Secretary, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samithi (BGVS), and Karnataka. On 27th July 2014 Ms. Prabha had posted a statement on Facebook regarding “Challenges of Superstitious Practices for Scientific Attitudes.” In her post, she had opined that inauguration of various projects by pujas or other ritual observances detracted from appreciation of the creativity and hard work put in by workers and others which had actually brought the Project to fruition. In a response on Facebook, one Shri.V.R.Bhat assailed her for being “against Indian culture”, openly threatened her and called for her to be dragged by the hair and publicly raped. (See https://www.facebook.com/prabhan.belavangala).
Ms. Prabha has rightly lodged an FIR against this bigot.
The All India Peoples Science Network (AIPSN), with more than 40 constituent organizations nationwide including Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, New Delhi and BGVS Karnataka, demands that stringent action be taken against this person to the fullest extent of the law. He has clearly violated relevant laws regarding criminal intimidation, sexual harassment and misuse of the internet and social media. He should be brought to book urgently and concerned authorities should ensure that no untoward incidents take place directed against Ms. Prabha.
AIPSN calls upon all progressive and democratic individuals and organizations to resolutely oppose the Hindutva fundamentalist forces and resist the Talibanization of India. People may hold different opinions as to the merits or otherwise of conducting pujas or other rituals to inaugurate projects, especially in official functions in a self-declared secular country, but everybody has the right to hold their own opinions. Intimidation or violence as a means of pushing one particular opinion at the cost of others is an assault on democracy itself and should be resisted at all costs.
AIPSN also calls upon Governments at the Centre and in the States to encourage critical thinking, pluralism of opinion and a scientific attitude as enshrined in the Constitution and as befits the world’s largest democracy.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Newsclick.
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