Karnataka

Police inaction over multiple death threats baffles writers

Writer Kum. Veerabhadrappa submitting a written request to Vijayanagara Superintendent of Police K. Arun at Hosapet in April 2022. Mr. Veerabhadrappa is among the writers who have been receiving death threat letters, and has got six such letters so far.

Writer Kum. Veerabhadrappa submitting a written request to Vijayanagara Superintendent of Police K. Arun at Hosapet in April 2022. Mr. Veerabhadrappa is among the writers who have been receiving death threat letters, and has got six such letters so far. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

An individual, who signs off as “Sahishnu Hindu” (tolerant Hindu), has written at least 19 death threat letters to writers, to their residential addresses, since April 2022, the latest being to Chitradurga-based writer B.L. Venu.

Many writers have got more than one letter, and Mr. Venu himself has got two so far.

Despite the letters being brought to the notice of the police in various places in the State, the letter writer is still at large. In fact, the police have not filed FIRs in most cases, which has shocked writers and Opposition leaders.

Two deaths

With two writers M.M. Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh being assassinated and their killers being caught when they were in the advanced stage of executing a conspiracy to assassinate K.S. Bhagawan, these threat letters have raised fears among the writers’ families and friends.

“Our families are concerned and this acts as a pressure on writers to censor themselves. The lack of action by the police and the government, though not surprising, is condemnable,” said writer S.G. Siddaramaiah. Some of those who have received letters were also on the “hit list” recovered from Gauri Lankesh’s alleged killers.

The letters, uniformly, condemn the writers for their progressive and alleged “anti-Hindu” stances and threaten to kill them. The letters also threaten to kill Opposition leaders Siddaramaiah, H.D. Kumaraswamy and B.K. Hariprasad, though no letters have been sent to them. 

B. L. Venu

B. L. Venu

Banjagere Jayaprakash

Banjagere Jayaprakash

B. T. Lalita Naik

B. T. Lalita Naik

 Vasundhara Bhupati

 Vasundhara Bhupati

Going by the comparison of various letters now available, it appears that it is the same person’s handwriting, who begins the letter with “Om, Sri, Om” and signs off as “Sahishnu Hindu.” In the content of many letters, the list of targets named are often the same. “Several writers have got threat letters on the same day, posted from the same post office. For instance, B.T. Lalitha Naik and I got similar letters with the same handwriting and content posted from Davangere the same day,” said writer Vasundhara Bhupati. Till date these letters have been posted from Davangere, Haveri, Kalaburagi, Shivamogga, Bengaluru and various post offices across the State.

The letters began by targeting 61 writers who wrote an open letter to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai during the hijab controversy in March, 2022. Later they targeted writers who have opposed school textbook revision by the BJP government.

Writer Kum. Veerabhadrappa has till date got six threat letters. In the latest letter, the person threatened to kill him if he did not give a public statement praising Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar in the next fortnight. Another writer Banjagere Jayaprakash has got five threat letters. 

“In many cases, like mine, the police have refused to register FIRs,” said Ms. Bhupati, who lodged a complaint with Basaveshwaranagar police. The police have filed a non-cognisable report. Two FIRs have been registered in connection with two letters to former Minister and writer B.T. Lalitha Naik, but not in other cases. In most cases, police have visited their houses and offered to provide security, put up police beat points, but not registered FIRs.

Threat to dissent

“Threats to all voices of dissent seem to be normalised in the State. It is sad that Karnataka has come to this,” said Mr. Veerabhadrappa. Leader of the opposition in the Legislative Council B.K. Hariprasad termed the campaign a “covert agenda of the ruling regime to scuttle all voices of dissent and Opposition in the country.”

When contacted, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra and DG & IGP Praveen Sood promised to look into the issue and take suitable action. “I have asked the police to nab the culprit at the earliest. We will also provide security to the writers if needed,” Mr. Jnanendra said. Mr. Sood said FIRs will be registered at all police stations wherever writers approach the police and the culprit will be brought to book.


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Printable version | Aug 28, 2022 2:57:37 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/police-inaction-over-multiple-death-threats-baffles-writers/article65627196.ece