People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 11, 2007
Midnight Arrest of Leading Fighter Against Communalism
The CPI(M) Karnataka state secretariat has issued the following statement:
JD(S)-BJP government of Karnataka has added another feather to its cap in aiding and abetting communal forces by a midnight swoop on B V Sitaram, managing director and columnist of an eveninger - Karavali Ale (waves of coast) who through his columns was vehemently fighting communal forces, obscurantism, Muslim fundamentalism and exposing corrupt politicians. (He has serialised Sitaram Yechury’s ‘What is Hindu Rastra’, translated and printed many articles from People’s Democracy of Sitaram Yechury and Prakash Karat)
Recently he made scathing attack on Virat Hindu Samaveshas. He published in the front page with banner headline about the humiliation meted out to a backward caste swamiji on the stage of Virat Hindu Samavesha and walk out of that swamiji in protest. These write-ups angered the Sangh Parivar. On January 31 night,0 at about 7.30 p.m. about 60-70 goondas attacked the newspaper’s office and destroyed furniture, computers and other equipments, important files etc. The managing director’s house by the side of the office also became a target of the attack. Though a case has been registered by the police, no one has been arrested even after a month. As if it is a continuation of these goonda attacks, on March 3, at 9.30p.m. the police went to the house and arrested Mr. B.V. Sitaram and his wife also. He was not given any authorisation for the arrest. Though he was told of a complaint against him on some of his write-ups on a Jain muni but he was not even given a copy of FIR. It was pointed out to the police officers that according to relevant acts, it is the editor, printer and publishers who are answerable about any thing that is published in the paper and though he was none of them but managing editor, he was arrested along with his wife. This was an attempt to threaten him to shut his mouth.
The articles which have been a pretext for this arrest, are regarding the double standards of police and government which bans nude worship by women, animal sacrifice by lower castes as obscurantist, violation of decency in public places etc but allows Jain munis to appear in nude in public and allows many other obscurantist practices of higher castes and religions. Though they are severe criticisms of Jain religious practices, they are not beyond that and do not attract provisions of 153 a, b, etc of IPC.
The very fact that both Mr. Seetharam and his wife have been arrested on Saturday night, clearly demonstrates that it is a pre-planned act of revenge The district-in-charge minister and an RSS activist Nagaraj Shetty, Sangh Parivar, district superintendent of police who has also been severely criticised for publicly worshipping nude Jain muni and also for many of his other acts of omission and commission and the complainant a Jain and president of Bus Owners Association who has been running feud with Mr. Seetharam regarding his write up on raising bus tariffs and various other things, who had got bundles of this paper thrown out of buses, have colluded in this vengeful act.
Karnataka government led by JD(S) with home minister being from JD(S) has succumbed to pressures of BJP in committing this heinous act against freedom of expression and intimidating voices of secularism.
It is not surprising that press corps in Mangalore containing large contingents of highly communalised section have not raised in protest.
DYFI district unit protested on February 5 against attack on the office of the paper.
The CPI(M) state centre gave a call for immediate protests all over the state against the arrest of Mr. Sitaram and his wife. Protests were held before offices of district magistrate/superintendent of police in Mangalore, Gulbarga, Mysore, Raichur etc. In Bangalore protest demonstrations were held in front of home minister’s House. The protests are continuing in other districts. Wide sections of people from journalism, literature etc were mobilised. (INN)