The city police have registered two FIRs against Kannada actor Chetan Kumar for allegedly “hurting religious beliefs” and “imputations prejudicial to national integration”, for his recent remarks on Brahminism.
The two cases have been booked based on complaints by Sachidananda Murthy, Chairman, Brahmin Development Board, and Vipra Yuva Vedike, a community organisation. The complaints were registered with the Ulsoor Gate and Basavanagudi police stations, respectively. In both FIRs, the police have booked the actor under Sections 153B and 295A of Indian Penal Code.
Mr. Chetan had recently made a series of social media posts critical of Brahminism, arguing that it is negation of the spirit of liberty, equality, and fraternity.
The controversy began with Kannada actor Upendra posting a video on social media and Mr. Chetan’s response to it. In the video, Mr. Upendra appealed to people not to talk of caste, as it would only perpetuate it further. Mr. Chetan responded with another video, in which he denounced Brahminism as the root of caste inequality in Indian society. In the same video, he clarified that he was not against Brahmins as a community but against ‘Brahminism’, which he said has today crept into all communities and even other religions.
When contacted, the actor told The Hindu, “I have done no wrong and I am confident that what I have said does not constitute any offence. I have only quoted Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and Periyar. The Kannada world has a long tradition of several Brahmins fighting Brahminism. These FIRs are an intimidation tactic. I will fight these cases legally.” In another post on Saturday he said, “We have a Constitutional responsibility to oppose Brahminism and all inequality.”
Following the FIRs, many have expressed support for Mr. Chetan. “If criticising Brahminism has now become a crime, then a lot of us starting from Basavanna and Babasaheb Ambedkar are culpable,” said senior writer S.G. Siddaramaiah.
Former chairman of Karnataka Backward Classes Commission C.S. Dwarakanath said the actor’s comments do not constitute an offence under any section of law. “Mr. Chetan has not condemned a community, but an ideology and practice that has historically been discriminatory and appealed to society to fight against it,” he said.