‘We can be killed for what we write’


Back in 2009, following the infamous Mangaluru pub attack by activists of the Sri Rama Sena, Kannada writer Chetana Thirthahalli wrote an article harshly critical of the group in her blog. Soon, she started receiving a flurry of threatening comments.

“I didn’t care much about it back then. But in these few years since that incident, things have changed drastically with increasing intolerance. We can be killed for what we write,” says Chetana, in an interview to The Hindu on Wednesday.

She was in the city to participate in a protest meeting against communal fascism.

The threats and abuses started again, after a break, a year ago after she wrote an article on rape accusation by a woman against a seer.

Threat of acid attack

“Initially, the threats were coming from fake IDs in facebook. After I participated in a beef-eating rally in Bengaluru in protest against the Dadri murder, the threats intensified. This time, one of them was using his original ID to send these threats. He even threatened to pour acid on my face. Considering the prevailing situation, I took screenshots of all these threats and complained to the police,” she says.

Chetana, who was working in a Kannada newspaper, quit a few months ago to pursue film-making. She has written 10 books in Kannada language and has translated two works. She has been contributing columns for some publications too.

Culprit traced

“I used to write for a web portal. These online abusers said that I am causing ‘droha’ to Hinduism by writing for a portal owned by a Muslim. They called me a victim of ‘intellectual love jihad’ and also threatened to ruin my family. But several people who heard about all this ask me to ignore it since it is happening in the virtual world. Many, including our government, are not serious in these issues,” she says.

The Karnataka Police have now traced the man who used his original ID to threaten, to Dubai.

PM’s silence

She says the Karnataka government has been ‘soft’ in dealing with serious cases of intolerance, including the Kalburgi murder and the recent incident of a foreigner being harassed for a tattoo.

“These extremists now seem to think that they will be saved whatever they do. The silence of the Prime Minister, who tweets on everything including cricket, also raises questions,” says Chetana.

Chetana Thirthahalli says the Karnataka government has been ‘soft’ in dealing with cases of intolerance.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 8:11:43 AM |

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