It has made little difference to the lives of the state’s rationalists, writers and academics that one of their own heads the government in Karnataka. A self-avowed atheist, chief minister Siddaramaiah appears powerless as rightwing extremists publicly threaten and harass the state’s intellectuals.
Siddaramaiah’s helplessness can judged from a recent public statement by his media advisor Dinesh Amin Mattu. Speaking earlier this week at an event organised to condemn the killing of Dharwad-based rationalist M M Kalburgi, Mattu revealed that the CM was angry with the police for letting off Sri Rama Sene activists who had threatened to burn down the houses of Kannada writers Chennaveera Kanavi and Giraddi Govindaraja. The writers had signed a memorandum seeking a probe into the role of the Sene in Prof Kalburgi’s killing.
According to Mattu, Siddaramaiah flew into a rage, but could do little else, when police officials told him at his daily morning briefing that the Sene activists had been let off on bail a few hours after their arrest.
Kanavi and Govindaraja are not the only intellectuals who are living in constant fear of an attack. Here is a list of others who are on the hitlist of religious fundamentalists.