HATE speech that targets minority groups and individuals who associate themselves with secular movements dominates public addresses by leaders of the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). Incitement to acts of violence, character assassination, abuse, threats, filthy humour, and the twisting of facts are par for the course. At the public meeting that followed the Shobha Yatra in Chikmagalur, vitriolic attacks against leaders of the Souharda Vedike were made by all speakers.
"The so-called intellectuals have opposed the Ayodhya movement, opposed our Kashmir policy, and they do not have any nationalist sentiments," said K. Sunil Kumar, State convener of the Bajrang Dal. "We do not say that Muslims should not worship at the shrine. We do not wear caps and ask to pray in their places of worship. Our struggle is to allow Hindus to do puja in the shrine."
C.T. Ravi, general secretary of the State unit of the Yuva Morcha, said that the forbears of the "intellectuals" who are opposing the Datta Jayanthi were also opposed to the freedom movement, and quoted Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose who reportedly said the same thing. He expressed his sorrow that the Jnanpith Award was given to an "a-Jnani" (the reference being to Girish Karnad, the recipient of the Bharatiya Jnanpith Award in 1999). "If they don't see sense they should be sent to the mental asylum," he said. He threatened the government and the secular forces that they would have only themselves to blame if they are worsted in a `Kurukshetra'. "We will not be held responsible for the consequences," he warned.
The ire of Pramod Mutalik, South India convener for the Bajrang Dal, was directed against Girish Karnad and Gowri Lankesh. " `Sharief' Karnad and `Gori' Lankesh," he thundered, as he wagged a finger at his supposed enemies, "go back to Pakistan. No, but since Pakistan belongs to us, you can go to Iran or Iraq" (`Gori' means a Muslim tomb in Kannada). Calling Karnad and other secularists "ardha-mardha (cross-breed) Muslims", he threw several challenges at them. "Come and face me if you can! Beware this won't work!" The police should not have stopped Karnad from protesting in Chikmagalur, he said. "People will throw chappals at you (Karnad). They would have stripped you and sent you back in the form of Gomateshwara" (referring to the famous naked statue of Gomateshwara near Halebid). He said that the secularists were always telling Hindus to have vasectomy operations to stop having children while Muslims were allowed to breed freely ("I am of course a bachelor," he added piously.) "Progeny of Babar, don't try to raise your heads. We will deal with whoever opposes us," he warned. Finally Mutalik called for an economic boycott of Muslims until the Ram temple was constructed in Ayodhya, and their demands on the Bababudangiri shrine were conceded. At a press conference in Bangalore, D.H. Shankaramurthy (BJP), Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, called for the withdrawal of the Jnanpith Award conferred on Girish Karnad, as "anti-nationalists" did not deserve it. The Souharda Vedike, of which Karnad is an active member, is supported by the Peoples War, he alleged, which makes Karnad an anti-nationalist and undeserving of the award.
"It is a free country and they are perfectly entitled to say what they want," Karnad told Frontline. "For my part, I would only say that we must keep the pressure up. What is extraordinary is the partisanship of the authorities as all this has been done under the aegis of various district administrations. This is exactly like what happened in Ayodhya. All we are saying is that the Supreme Court decisions must be applied. This is still the crux of our position."