Actor Chetan’s Second Arrest: First as Warning, Second as Strategy?

Actor chetan

UPDATE March 24, 2023: Chetan Kumar gets a bail

Actor and activist Chetan Kumar, who was arrested for his offensive tweet has been granted bail on Thursday, March 23.A local court in Bengaluru released him on a surety of two persons and a Rs 25,000 bond. He was remanded to judicial custody for 14 days after he was arrested by Seshadripuram police.

Soon after attaining his freedom, Chetan who has been fighting for equality, while speaking to media said, sticking to his stand once again reiterated that, “Hindutva is built on lies.” Sharing his thoughts on Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda who allegedly killed Tipu Sultan, he added, “It is a cooked-up story to create disharmony between Vokkaligas and Muslim communities. Even historian have confirmed that Tipu Sultan was not killed by the duo. He was a great freedom fighter. We need to adopt his principles to create an egalitarian society. ”

The actor has also stated that he will continue fight for the betterment of the society. This is not the first time the actor was arrested following his offensive tweet. He was also earlier arrested in February last year for a tweet against Karnataka High Court Justice Krishna Dixit. He was later released on bail.

Kannada film actor, Ambedkarite Activist Mr. Chetan Kumar has been arrested by the Bommai led BJP government for the second time in the last one year. The previous  arrest was made in February 2022, for a tweet criticising, Justice Krishna Dixit , a high court judge , over his misogynist remarks in an order allowing a bail plea of  a rape accused. The same judge was part of the bench of three judges that heard the Hijab case in the Karnataka High Court. Chetan had expressed his serious reservations about the outcome of the proceedings due to the Judge’s prejudice against the women as expressed in the bail order. In fact, on the advice of the chief justice, those controversial remarks were later expunged from the order also.

Nevertheless, Chetan had to spend a few days in judicial custody before he got bail. There was an outrage in Karnataka civil society over the arrest which was considered as an attempt to suppress a dissident Ambedkarite Voice.

Chetan has proved his commitment to the causes he pursued even after his arrest. He was outspoken and unapologetic about his views on how even the judiciary is a replica of Indian casteist and male chauvinist society. He continued his unadulterated critique of all the political parties based on an Ambedkarite and Periyarist ideology. His strong views has resulted in the consolidation of some of his support base but has also alienated some others. His views continue to be debated in the mainstream media, very often not doing justice to his nuanced understanding.

This time around, the tweet for which Chetan has been arrested for the second time has touched the very electoral and ideological fault line of the RSS-BJP combine. In the impugned tweet Chetan had said that:

Hindutva is built on lies. Savarkar’s theory that Hindu Rashtra was inaugurated from the times when Rama killed Ravana and brought back Sita is a lie. That there was a Ram Mandir beneath Babri-Masjid was a lie. And that Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda, two concocted Vokkaliga warriors (were responsible for the) killing of Tipu is also a lie. Hence Hindutva is built on lies. Only truth can defeat these lies; and Equality is the Truth.

While the first two statements have been made by scores of people all of the time, what has truly perturbed and rattled the BJP’s machinery in Karnataka is the last one about Uri Gowda and Naje Gowda.

To understand the import of this statement one needs to understand the predicament of the BJP in the poll bound state of Karnataka.

The BJP government which is today wrecked with charges of corruption, scandals, factional fights, administrative failures etc., is solely banking on the time-tested electoral strategy of communal polarisation in the state. To this end it has been trying to rake up communal issues and also create a wedge between the dominant Vokkaliga community and the Muslims in the Mysore region where Tipu and Hyder Ali ruled for decades. The BJP is constantly attempting this by demonising Tippu Sultan and building statues for Kempe Gowda, the Vokkaliga chieftain of the area.

Of late the Gobblesian false factory of RSS-BJP has discovered two Vokkaliga warriors, namely Uri Gowda and Dodda Nanje Gowda and spun the story that they are responsible for killing Tipu Sultan in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War on May 4, 1799 in Srirangapattana, as a revenge against his “rule of religious bigotry”.  A minister of the Bommai cabinet has even volunteered to produce a movie titled “Urigowda and Nanje Gowda”.

But all that propaganda did not gain traction, albeit temporarily, because a majority of the Vokkaliga community took offense to this misadventure of the Sangh Parivar and even the seer of the community prevailed upon the minister to retract and himself gave a firm caution against this false campaign. This is only because Tipu is considered even today as a great patriotic ruler who fought against the British with bravery and lost his life in the battlefield defending the country. Hence those who are responsible for the death of Tipu, like Mir Sadiq, the commander who betrayed Tipu in the final war, are considered traitors. Now the BJPs campaign which make two Vokkaligas “take credit” for the killing of Tipu is taken as a huge offense against the community.

However, even though, the momentum around “Urigowda” propaganda has decreased, staunch Vokkaliga politicians with an RSS background, like CT Ravi and Shobha Karandlaje have indirectly challenged the caution given by the seer and hinted that they would pursue the false campaign. Thus the Urigowda campaign might get postponed until the election but may resume with more fervour because it is the part of the larger strategy of the Sangh Parivar to re write the history by inventing Hindutva soldiers and Freedom Fighters while demonising all Muslim rulers with the same brush of invasion and bigotry.

It is in this background that Chetan tweeted this seemingly most innocuous tweet reiterating a truism stated by different people umpteen times in the public sphere.

For example, scholars like Ambedkar have exposed the Savarkarite myth of Hindu Rashtra and Ramayana in most of his works. Allam Prabhu, one of the great teachers of the Lingayat Community which is the  main social base of the BJP in Karnataka, has declared in one of his couplets, in most unambiguous terms that “Puranas are nothing but a time pass of Ruffians and Vedas are worthless coir”.

In fact Chetan’s tweet can hardly be more “offending” than this .

That there was no Rama mandir beneath Babri Masjid is acknowledged by no less than the Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court.

And, Niramalanda Swamiji, the seer of the Vokkaliga community has officially declared that the Urigowda and Nanjegowda “warriors” are figment of fiction. The seer is also on record saying that “through imagination(s) one can write novels but not History.”

Not only that, if   this new “discovery” was true,  the Britishers who wanted to portray Tipu’s egalitarian rule as bigotry to justify their conquest, would have made maximum use of Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda in their campaign against Tipu immediately after his death.

Neither do “The Journey From Madras Through the Country of Mysore, Canara and Malabar” a documentation of Society and People of Mysore province by Francis Buchanan, immediately after the death of Tipu or the Historical account of the last Anglo-Mysore war documented by Alexander Beatson, or James Salmond or the locals like Ramchandra Rao Punganuri or the more recent one documented by British Officer C. Hayavadana Rao in 1946, even contain a bare documentation of mention these characters.

All the official, credible accounts of 1799, May 4 document that:

Mir Sadiq, the commander -in-chief of Tipu Sultan, betrayed Tipu and colluded with the British. He facilitated the march of the British Army into Srirangapattana after breaching the unguarded fort at about lunch time. Tipu Sultan, after learning that his confident commander Gafur had been martyred in the fight, rushes to the battleground with some of his confidence. But it was late and the city of Srirangapattana was being ransacked and plundered by British soldiers. Still Tipu puts up a brave fight killing many British soldiers in his wake. But in no time his beloved horse got killed and Tippu himself was hit by Musket balls and collapsed from the mount. Few British soldiers who were on the rampage, approached Tipu to seize from him the diamond studded sword. Tipu kills the soldier with the drawn sword. The other British soldiers kill him immediately by shooting without even knowing whom they are killing.

Even the local ballads in the folklore of Mysore, which are generally considered as an unadulterated account of truth in history, praise Tipu as a hero who died a martyr in safeguarding the country and in the quest of liberating the peasants. If Tipu was a tyrant and the Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda were liberators, the local ballads would have depicted the same. In fact there is not a single ballad even mentioning these imaginary Sanghi warriors or portraying Tipu as a tyrant. 

Hence, the agrarian communities in the region have a great regard for Tipu and the Vokkaligas in general have taken offense to BJPs campaign which is bringing bad repute to their community.

Chetan has only aired this sentiment. Chetan is charged with creating disharmony between the communities over a complaint filed by a Bajrang Dal activist. That there was no need of arrest in such cases and that there has been no arrests of Right Wingers on more vicious statements says a lot about the current state of affairs.

Chetan may get the bail in a day or two. But the Hinduva bigots will continue with their crusade against Tipu and continue this agenda since it strengthens a crucial pillar of their Hindu Rashtra. The secular combat against this needs to be carried out relentlessly and with caution.


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