Thiruvananthapuram

Police register case against Pillai for ‘hate speech’

The allegation is thatR. Balakrishna Pillai’s speech has exacerbated communal tensions in Kerala.  

The State police on Thursday registered a case against Kerala Congress (B) leader R. Balakrishna Pillai on the suspicion of promoting enmity between groups on the grounds of religion.

The former Minister and Nair Service Society (NSS) leader had allegedly made comments ridiculing Islam and Christianity at an NSS meeting in Kamukumchery in Pathanamthitta on July 30.

The “audio clip” of the purported 37-minute “speech” had emerged on the social media on August 4, triggering a police complaint against Mr. Pillai. The allegation was that Mr. Pillai’s speech had exacerbated communal tensions in Kerala.

Mr. Pillai’s speech was portrayed as a mix of virulent Islamophobia and religious bigotry directed at Christians. Some Hindu right wing groups had strongly defended Mr. Pillai’s “words” as “free speech”. With public opinion getting sharply divided on the touchy issue, Mr. Pillai said that his words had been twisted out of context and that he had meant no offence to the minority communities.

However, a preliminary inquiry by Ajeetha Begum, SP, Kollam Rural, concluded that there was substance in the complaint against Mr. Pillai.

The State police also received legal advice that Mr. Pillai’s speech attracted Section 153 A of the India Penal Code. The offence entailed a punishment of three years of imprisonment and fine.

Mr. Pillai, one of the founding members of the United Democratic Front (UDF), had switched sides to the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the recent Assembly elections.

His son and the party’s sole legislator, K.B. Ganesh Kumar, backed the ruling front.

Demagoguery had got Mr. Pillai had into similar trouble with the law in 1986 when he “publicly aired” the view that Kerala should secede from the Indian Union if the Centre denied the State’s legitimate due. At the time, he was the Electricity Minister in K. Karunakaran’s Cabinet.

The controversial “Punjab model speech” had led to his resignation.

In 2011, he had served nearly a year’s time in prison after he was convicted for corruption in the Idamalayar case.


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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 4:36:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/Police-register-case-against-Pillai-for-%E2%80%98hate-speech%E2%80%99/article14552716.ece

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