HJS petitions have led to cancellations of multiple events; recurrence flagged as ‘security concern’

October 28, 2022 08:32 pm | Updated 08:32 pm IST - Bengaluru

Gauri Lankesh

Gauri Lankesh

Narendra Dabholkar

Narendra Dabholkar

M.M. Kalburgi

M.M. Kalburgi

Govind Pansare

Govind Pansare

In the last year, at least three programmes were cancelled in Bengaluru by the police and other authorities, acting on petitions submitted by Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS), a sister organisation of Goa-based Hindutva organisation Sanatan Sanstha.

Members of HJS and Sanstha have been charged in the murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M.M. Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. 

The three cases

In the latest instance, following a petition by HJS, the Kannada and Culture Department withdrew permission to use its venue for the release of a book on former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday. Earlier, HJS has got two stand-up comedy shows of Munawar Faruqui cancelled in November, 2021, and August, 2022. In all these petitions, HJS alleged the programmes were “anti-Hindu”, “anti-national” and threatened protests if the programmes were allowed to be held, following which police and other authorities cancelled them. HJS has also similarly petitioned against several other programmes in the city, though they did not result in cancellation, including against a lecture by writer and activist Arundhati Roy.

Avinash Patil, of Maharashtra Andhashradha Nirmoolan Samiti, started by the late Dabholkar, for whose murder in 2013 individuals associated with HJS were charged, said petitioning against events organised by progressive groups and getting them cancelled was a familiar modus operandi. “They have been consistently targeting events by rationalists and other progressive groups for decades. They petition local police stations, district authorities and venue owners threatening them with protests if the events were allowed. Local authorities and venue owners are usually risk averse and end up cancelling our events to avoid trouble. Done consistently, this ends up creating an atmosphere where it becomes difficult to hold events for any progressive cause,” he said. 

Representatives of HJS have also been regularly part of several panel discussions on television channels purportedly representing the Hindus, and emerged as a major voice during the January-June 2022 period in Karnataka when several fringe Hindutva organisations had been carrying out communal campaigns targeting the minority community.

The mainstreaming

This mainstreaming of HJS has caused concern even among sections of the State police. “Ironically, HJS was a fringe organisation unknown before members associated with it were busted and charged for murders of writers in the State. They have consistently become part of the mainstream discourse since then,” said a senior police officer involved with the Gauri Lankesh murder probe, who did not wish to be named. 

A senior police official said the mainstreaming of HJS and several other fringe Hindutva organisations in Karnataka, especially during January to June 2022, had been flagged to the government as a security concern.

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