Dear Honorable Rep. Trent Franks:
I heard your speech delivered to US House of Representatives in Washington DC on October 12, 2017. I was surprised to find out how the content of your speech was slanted, biased and unbalanced. It appears that your office failed to do enough investigation to know the facts about the Gauri Lankesh murder and threat to Kancha Ilaiah. Let me explain my reasons for this observation.
(Video link is included for your information:
Death of Gauri Lankesh
You stated that “She [Gauri Lankesh] was an anti-establishment figure with a reputation for her fearless criticism of undemocratic elements within the parties in power.”
This statement is totally unwarranted, inappropriate and reckless based on misconceptions, innuendos and religious bigotry. Without any evidence, you tried to intentionally smear the ruling party as undemocratic. It is unfortunate to come from a distinguished House of Representative like yourself.
Sir, you have made a mistake by not even looking at the facts and waiting until the investigation is completed. You have become an advocate for indiscriminate judgment and premature conclusion about the cause of her death.
It is appropriate to mention that her reputation as a “fearless critic” was tarnished by her cooked up documentation of alleged corrupt practices of three BJP men published in her article “BJP men involved in Criminal Activities” published in 2008. These three men filed a defamation case against Gauri Lokesh in Judicial Magistrate First Class Court. She defied the court and failed to appear in the court resulting in her arrest.
The court admonished her by saying, “It is essential that the persons who is responsible for publication should take good care and caution before publishing the articles … which tends to harm the reputation of a person…. The persons reputation is a property and if possible more valuable than their property.” It is the duty of every responsible person to protect the personal reputation of others, especially the journalists who claim to have high moral standards.
Who Killed Gauri Lankesh?
There are as many as seven theories advanced by the news media as to the cause of her death. One of them was the theory you spoke about without an iota of evidence. You also referred the deaths of Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and Narendra Dabholkar by saying the circumstances of her death were strikingly similar to the death of Gauri Lokesh. It is unfortunate that a House of Representative of your status will fall prey to the religious bigotry at the expense of your untarnished reputation.
The most important and powerful theory, that you deliberately ignored, is that she was killed by Congress Party leaders in the State of Karnataka. Many people believe that she met with this fate because her investigation of corruption case against the Congress government in the state. In Twitter, Jayaprakash Kini says “Gauri Lankesh brother wants CBI probe saying, ‘Can’t trust INC (Congress) govt.’ She was safe slamming Right Wing, got killed probing INC scam. “Similarly, Saffron Chanda tweeted, “A journo #GauriLankesh was killed in a dastardly crime Period she was working on Siddharamaiah’s Curruption Story. (sic)”
Your implication that rightwing BJP government was behind these murders is beyond any logic, reason, or evidence. It is absurd.
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd
He has written many books only to insult, demean and denigrate Hindus, Hindu Gods, different caste systems, traditions and customs, sacred books by fabrication, distortion, lies, misinterpretation, and falsification.
In your speech you mentioned that Kancha Ilaiah’s life was threatened for questioning the caste system, his two books sparked the controversy, and the freedom of speech should not be infringed. Let me address these points raised in your speech.
Freedom of Speech
You mentioned that you wanted to shed light on the abridgement of freedom of speech with the implication that India is infringing on the freedom of speech. As per Article 19 in the Constitution of India, all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression similar to the first amendment of US constitution that gives the freedom of speech to all America. Many liberals, secularists and so-called intellectuals have taken advantage of the freedom of speech and stretched to the point of no return by insulting and demeaning the Hindu community.
Kancha Ilaiah is promoter of Blasphemy
One has a constitutional right to have freedom of speech, but he does not have right to promote hate, incite riots, and advocate violence. Recognizing the diversity of religions, India passed a number of laws against hate speeches that fall under the “reasonable restrictions” to freedom of expression permitted in the Indian Constitution. Specifically, Sections 124A, 153A, 153B, 292, 293, and 295A of the Indian Penal Code prohibit any words or representations that insult any individual’s or group’s religious beliefs, or that are meant to incite enmity against a religion. Hindus have been patient for so many years enduring his insults and hatred. His two decades of continued and aggravated insults resulted in the outburst of anger and protests. His intention of writing and speaking against Hindu community was only to instigate and incite anger and frustration. He finally succeeded in rousing the emotions after so many years of tirade against Hindus.
Kancha Ilaiah is a perennial abuser of freedom of speech as he violated the Indian Penal code time and again. Dr. Ambedkar, the father of Indian Constitution foresaw how freedom of speech can be abused and maligned by people like Kancha Ilaiah, he introduced certain restrictions to protect the feeling of religious people. Knowing fully well, he was maligning and insulting Hindus deliberately for nearly two decades.
To get attention from abroad and especially from USA and House of Representatives, he purposefully and deliberately violated these restrictions imposed in section 295(A) by Indian Constitution. It says, “Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of [citizens of India], [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both.” His interest is to get name recognition, fame and global notoriety by scouting the law and insulting nearly 80 percent Hindus.
As President George W Bush mentioned in his recent speech “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.”
Is Kancha Ilaiah Intellectual?
You described Kancha Ilaiah as “one of the world’s well-known intellectuals” and declared him as a modern-day Dr. Ambedkar. If that is so, he should have remembered the words of Dr. Ambedkar and reflected on the responsibility of an intellectual. Dr. Ambedkar said, “An intellectual man can be a good man, but he may easily be a rogue. Similarly, an intellectual class may be a band of high-souled persons, ready to help, ready to emancipate erring humanity or it may easily be a gang of crooks or a body of advocates of narrow clique from which it draws its support.” He is dishonest and unprincipled man with no morals and ethics resorting to the manipulation, distortion of Hindu faith. He exemplifies the worst of human race. He fits the definition of Milton Friedman who says, “Every intellectual believes in freedom for himself, but he’s opposed to freedom for others. . ..”
Tolerance VS Intolerance
Kancha Ilaiah is personification of evil, hate and animosity toward Hinduism. One has no right to castigate the whole religion. Bigotry, prejudice, intolerance, hatred, animosity, should not dehumanize every segment of Hindu community and insult their worship practices. Animalistic tendencies should be curtailed. Civility should prevail over rudeness. Respect for others should win over disrespect, politeness should succeed vulgarity. Deception should be replaced by honesty. Selfishness should give way to selflessness.
Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of denouncement. People like Kancha Ilaiah should be objective, rational, reasonable and balanced in his criticism based on verifiable facts. Nobody has unlimited freedom. It comes with responsibility. Kancha Ilaiah thinks that he can write anything and say anything because he is a minority and has support from abroad. Everybody should restrain himself to see that he respects others and weigh in the consequences of each act before he acts. Every act has a consequence. It is foolhardy to think that he cannot be questioned for all his hatred and deception. Awesome responsibility is associated with freedom of speech and not infringe on the rights of others.
It is highly appropriate to remember the paradox between tolerance and intolerance. Karl Popper’s words are worth remembering:
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.
Restrictions to Freedom of Speech
No society can afford to give unrestricted freedom of speech to its citizens. Every country has its own set of laws restricting the freedom to make sure society would not experience unrest, anarchy, chaos and safety concerns. In US, many regulations are passed regarding airways, legal bars, pornography, prisons, immigration, education, air pollution, and advertising. Advocacy of use of force is unprotected. The Supreme Court that freedom of speech is not granted if it constitutes “fighting words.” That means any speech that incites an immediate breach of peace is restricted.
Similarly, India also passed laws restricting any speech that promotes enmity between different social groups, hurts the sentiments of any community, maliciously criticize the religious beliefs and deliberately creating animosity between different communities in the society.
It is worth noting the Courts interpretation of the “fighting words” case known as Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942). In that case, the Court interpreted a statute of the State of New Hampshire:
“No person shall address any offensive, derisive or annoying word to any other person who is lawfully in any street or other public place, nor call him by any offensive or derisive name, nor make any noise or exclamation in his presence and hearing with intent to deride, offend or annoy him, or to prevent him from pursuing his lawful business or occupation.”
Similarly, in Whitney v. California, the Court opined:
“That the freedom of speech which is secured by the Constitution does not confer an absolute right to speak, without responsibility, whatever one may choose, or an unrestricted and unbridled license giving immunity for every possible use of language and preventing the punishment of those who abuse this freedom, and that a State in the exercise of its police power may punish those who abuse this freedom by utterances…”
Kancha Ilaiah has abused the freedom of speech to incite every segment of Hindu community in the name of caste discrimination and claiming to protect Dalits from this injustice. He has taken full advantage of the freedom of speech without ever considering the restrictions that may have been imposed by law. He deliberately challenging the law to be arrested so that he can proclaim to the world that he was arrested because of his Dalit caste.
Why Kancha Ilaiah doesn’t champion Dalit Christians?
Kancha Ilaiah has been recognized as a champion of Dalits. If he is so much concerned about caste discrimination against Dalits, why is he ignoring the caste discrimination among Dalit Christians by the Christian Churches. It is obvious that he intends to rake up the sentiments of Hindus by insulting, demeaning and abusing. Let us look at what the Dalit Christians are facing in the Christian Churches:
Dalit Christian Liberation Movement reported that “There are separate cemeteries for Dalit Christians. Even in the church, there are separate seating arrangements for those from the Dalit community and others. The festival choir processions do not enter the streets where Dalit Christians live”. In some churches, even the dead body of a Dalit Christian is not allowed inside for funeral Mass. While Dalit Christians form 70 percent of the total Catholic population in India, said one official, their representation in the Church leadership is only 4-5 percent. Out of about 200 active bishops in India, only nine are from the Dalit community.
Although 12 million out of 19 million members of the Catholic Church in India are Dalit Christians, when it comes to “their participation in the level of leadership in the diocesan administration as well as in religious orders is minimum, and at the higher levels, it is almost nil.”
Only 12 out of 240 Bishops are Dalit Christians. That means 63 percent of Dalit Christians occupy only 5 percent.
“There is a wider acceptance that the practice of untouchability and discrimination against Dalits exist in the Church and there is need to address these issues urgently,” says the document.
“There are hardly any inter-caste marriages among converted Christians. Until recently, Church-run magazines carried matrimonial advertisements containing specific caste references.
“In recent years a fixed number of jobs and seats have been earmarked in Catholic-run schools and colleges for members of the Dalit-Christian community.”
In cemeteries, a wall is built to separate the Dalit Christians, who were formerly untouchables, to perform their funeral services. Furthermore, the local bishops would not go to the cemetery to perform rituals for these Dalit Christians.
Now the question is where is Kancha Ilaiah? Why he is conveniently ignoring those glaring discriminatory practices in Christian Churches. Because there is no money, name and fame. He is relishing ever minutes of his expose in the media in India and global Christian organizations.
Threat to Kancha Ilaiah
You stated, “unequivocally that the United States and the entire global community is and should be deeply concerned about this threat to the life of Professor Kancha Ilaiah.”
T.G. Venkatesh MP from TDP addressed a press conference against the author and sought that he be “hanged publicly” for his constant, continued and reckless statements abusing every caste group with no remorse.
Venkatesh has displayed his courage, civility, sensibility by clarifying his statement. He said, “We remain a peaceful community. We are very hurt by the unintellectual writings of this man. I hope the community will be protected against such hateful rants posturing as intellectual work. There are no facts here, only naked hatred. I hope the laws can be changed to punish this man.”
Kancha Ilaiah never apologized to Hindus for tarnishing their image. Even then, he can be assured that he will be safe in India which espouses nonviolence. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Ahimsa is the highest duty. Even if we cannot practice it in full, we must try to understand its spirit and refrain as far as is humanly possible from violence.”
When the whole Hindu community is outraged with his indiscriminate abuse of his freedom of speech, you may want to request this gentleman to think, deliberate and be rational before accusing the Hindu community.
Please note that instead of maintaining high academic standards as expected in his profession, Kancha Ilaiah is just spewing venom day in and day out against Hindus pushing them against walls to get agitated and lose their patience. He is testing the tolerance of Hindu community. He should refrain from demeaning and denouncing. His publications are repulsive, trash, disgusting, revolting and filthy.
As Karl Popper said no society can afford to allow intolerant people to silence the tolerant and making the society full of intolerant bigots. Michael Walzer notes that most minority religious groups who are the beneficiaries of tolerance are themselves intolerant, at least in some respects. In a tolerant regime, such people may learn to tolerate, or at least to behave “as if they possessed this virtue.” As you may have realized, minority religions such as Christians and Muslims are given more privileges than any other country. Reservations are made in the educational field, employment in government and even travel grants to go to Bethlehem and Vatican.
I sincerely hope that in the future you would investigate the facts and the circumstances that lead to the incident like this, be objective based on the evidence, hear both sides of the story, not get influenced by your faith, and be balanced and impartial in your assessment.
I would be very happy to receive any comments or observations from your office.
Video Presentation of Honourable Rep. Trent Franks