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The Rediff Interview/U R Ananthamurthy

Apply anti-terror laws against Mangalore attackers: Ananthamurthy

January 29, 2009

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Karnataka has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this week. After the dastardly attack on women in a Mangalore pub last Saturday by members of the Shri Ram Sena, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa declared that he would not allow 'pub culture' in the state.

Udupi Rajagopalacharya Ananthamurthy, one of India's greatest novelists, a leading figure in contemporary Kannada literature and recipient of the prestigious Jnanpith Award, is "saddened and disgusted" by the moral policing in his beloved state. He tells rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa that moral policing is a parental duty -- not a governmental one.

What is your reaction to the recent moral policing?

I feel sad and I feel disgusted. This is not the Karnataka I know.

Do you think the Shri Ram Sena is justified in seeking a ban on pubs to 'protect Indian culture'?

Banning pubs is not the solution. Such incidents are like terror attacks -- they will not stop even if you shut down pubs. I think that the new anti-terror laws should be applicable to the perpetrators of such attacks.

Do you think the Shri Ram Sena should be banned?

Banning the Shri Ram Sena is not the solution. A ban on the entire Sangh Parivar would help prevent such incidents in the future.

Do you feel the Bharatiya Janata Party is finding it difficult to handle the Sena and curb its activities?

The BJP created this monster, which will end up devouring the party and Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa. The BJP had created Narendra Modi [Images], and one day he will devour (BJP y prime ministerial candidate) L K Advani [Images].

Advani feels bad about the demolition of the Babri Masjid, but Modi would never be apologetic about such an act.

Are we at a point of no return?

The solution is to elect a liberal party to power -- the BJP is a reactionary party. Such incidents will recur and at the moment, I do not see any hope.

You have been unusually quiet about the Mangalore incident. Usually, you are the first person to speak up against such horrific incidents.

Talking about it makes me feel sad. I feel that Karnataka is no longer the Karnataka I have known. Ours has been a land of great personalities and great writers.

I have been abused every time I have raised my voice against such atrocities. Personal allegations have been made against me. And tell me, did mediapersons like you bother standing up for me when such allegations were being leveled against me?

I only raised my voice about legitimate issues when I felt that society was being wronged. I feel as though I am living in exile in my home land.

Do you think that such an incident would not have taken place under a non-BJP government?

Such an incident would not have taken place had there been a proper government in power. We need governments that believe in progress to form a better society, not reactionary parties like the BJP.

The Shri Ram Sena believes women frequenting pubs in skimpy clothes is not part of our culture. Don't [Images] you think that someone ought to do something to preserve our culture, which is fading fast?

Why should it be anybody's problem? If a girl goes to a pub, then why should you and I bother? Their parents should deal with such issues. If I have a problem with my daughter going to a pub, then it is my problem and I have to deal with it. I should advise her about what is right and what is wrong.

Such issues are not the concern of the Shri Ram Sena or the government. The job of the government is to uphold the law and maintain peace, not act as moral guardians of society.


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