Thiruvananthapuram

Words are all they have

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:KERALA:: 28/10/2015:: Kannada writers Huchangi Prasad and Chetana Theerthahalli at a protest meeting against communal fascism at the Gandhi Park on Wednesday.........Photo:S.Gopakumar.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:KERALA:: 28/10/2015:: Kannada writers Huchangi Prasad and Chetana Theerthahalli at a protest meeting against communal fascism at the Gandhi Park on Wednesday.........Photo:S.Gopakumar.   | Photo Credit: S_GOPAKUMAR

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Huchangi Prasad received threats after he wrote on untouchability.

Huchangi Prasad first realised the injustice of the caste system as an 11 year old. A chain worn by a baby from an upper caste household in his neighbourhood had gone missing. The parents thought it had gone accidentally inside the toilet. They called Prasad home and made him search for the chain, by putting his hand inside the toilet pit.

“I started thinking on our situation. Why are we treated like this? Why do we have to do all this? That was the trigger for me to continue my education,” says Prasad, in an interview to The Hindu ahead of a protest meeting against communal fascism in the city on Wednesday. He had dropped out of school in fifth standard due to poverty and the prevailing untouchability in his native Davangere in Karnataka.

“My parents were bonded labourers. The women in my family belonged to the Devadasi tradition. We had to face oppression on both counts. I dropped out of school and helped my family for a while. I joined back a year after this incident,” he says.

He started writing poetry as he entered college. The writings and life stories of Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule and Periyar inspired him and made him aware of the historical injustices that Dalits had to face.

Last year, Prasad wrote Odala Kichhu, a book which documented his personal experiences of caste oppression and untouchability. Kannada writer K.S. Bhagawan, who was recently issued death threats by right wing fanatics, released the book.

Following this, activists of Sri Rama Sene and Hindu Rakshana Vedike started threatening him.

Last week, a man came to his university, where he is studying Journalism, claiming that his mother had been hospitalised. A group of eight men attacked him at a secluded place.

“They said that my writings were anti-Hindu as I talked about the caste system. They injured me with a knife and said that they will cut off my fingers. They said that I was born a Dalit because of my past sins. I pushed them away and somehow escaped from there.”

His bandaged palm still bleeds occasionally. He now walks around with a police escort, who accompanied him till Bengaluru on his way here.

“As long as the gunman is there, I am safe. I am not sure of what will happen after that,” says Prasad, whose house is just 100 km from where rationalist scholar M.M. Kalburgi was shot dead.

He says his attackers might belong to lower caste too, and are just tools in the hands of the upper caste people, who are the brains behind the attack. “The Sangh Parivar is now wooing all these Dalits by appropriating Ambedkar, despite his ideals being against them. If Ambedkar were alive today, he would have asked us to demolish the RSS and the BJP,” says Prasad.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 5:55:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/words-are-all-they-have/article7817398.ece

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