Tuesday, November 29, 2022

‘K’taka losing its pluralistic identity’: Academics to govt

On Republic Day, a group of scientists, academics, lawyers and other civil society members from Karnataka have written an open letter to chief minister Basavaraj Bommai as well as the state’s legislators expressing concerns about the state’s “deteriorating governance and the frequent violence against religious minorities”.
According to The Print, a report jointly filed by several civil society rights organisations in November last year had found that at least 71 instances of communal violence were reported in the state.
It is in this context that prominent civil society members such as historian and author Ramachandra Guha, advocate Flavia Agnes, professor Janaki Nair and 37 other academics, scientists, artists and beyond have written the open letter.
The letter said that, over the past few months, Karnataka has witnessed, “..the brutal killings of youths, rampant ‘hate speeches’, public threats and disruptions of worship by religious minorities, ‘honour killings’, ‘moral policing’, misogynistic statements by legislators and incidents of hostile and violent encounters between various religious groups”. Moreover, the letter notes that these disturbing trends have been facilitated by “callous and unconstitutional statements made by legislators” as well as the state machinery’s failure to “reign in fringe anti-social groups”.
The letter went on to stress that Karnataka’s cultural history “celebrates the plurality of cultures and religious tolerance” which the recent trends go against. The signatories also mention Karnataka’s political history, saying that the once-progressive state had “facilitated social harmony of a plural society and initiated model welfare programs for all sections of the population.”
“We note with both sadness and alarm that these traditions of tolerance and shared well-being are being torn asunder,” the letter reads, before mentioning two contentious legislations recently passed by the assembly, namely the ‘Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020’ (referred to in the letter as the “cow protection” bill) and the ‘Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021’ (the anti-conversion Act).
The signatories called upon the Karnataka government to take action to curb these negative trends and to “ensure that the rule of law, the principles of the Constitution, the rights of all citizens and the basic norms of humaneness prevail.”
“On this special day, as we celebrate our national status as a ‘Republic’ and as a state within this federal republic, we write this with hope that you will initiate a period of social harmony, just legislations and democratic functioning of the state machinery,” the letter concludes.

SourceNew Delhi
Must Read