NEW DELHI: Even as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley responded to the growing protests against intolerance by accusing the “Congress, Left thinkers and activists” of “ideological intolerance, a BJP leader from Karnataka threatened to behead state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah if he ate beef.

Channabasappa, a former president of the erstwhile Shivamogga City Municipal Corporation, was quoted by the local Deccan Chronicle as saying, "Let him (CM) eat beef at Gopi Circle in Shivamogga. If he does so, he will be beheaded. We won’t think twice about that,"

He further added, "By making such a statement, the Congress leader has hurt the sentiments of all Hindu. We have grown up drinking cows milk.”

CM Siddaramaiah had ATTAC ridiculed the anti-beef campaign at a meeting of the Karnataka Youth Congress General Body recently with, “till date I have never eaten cow meat. But if it suits my palette and if I want to eat beef, I will eat it. Nobody can stop me.”

The government, instead of taking note of the increasing concerns, has decided to draw daggers with the public intellectuals, artists, scientists, filmmakers, academics and others who have returned awards and signed statements in protest against the growing environment of intolerance.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who has been using the social media to attack the intellectuals and others has again tried to turn the tables by reducing the protest to the Congress, Left and a bunch of activists. In denial mode, he said. “They wish to project India as an intolerant society. Their strategy is two-fold. Firstly, obstruct Parliament and do not permit reforms which will bring credit to Modi government. Secondly, create, by structured and organised propaganda, an environment that there is a social strife in India. They wish to project India as an intolerant society. The truth is otherwise. Perpetrators of this propaganda never allowed alternative viewpoints to grow in either universities, academic institutions or cultural bodies that they have controlled. Their intolerance extends to not accepting an alternative ideological pole.”

He reiterated the BJP stand by maintaining that the Dadri lynching “was a stray incident.It was both unfortunate and condemnable.”

In yet another statement of proof that the dissent is widespread and fast acquiring a global dimension, 250 academics issued a statement protesting the “scant condemnation accorded to these incidents by the government.” They said that this “ amounts to abstention from constitutional responsibility, and encouragement to greater hostility and aggression, especially against religious and caste minorities. The resolute silence of the political leadership at the Centre puts in question its own complicity in these events.” The academics further stated, “we feel that the current political dispensation headed by the Prime Minister is mandating an atmosphere of violence and fear.”

PM Narendra Modi is currently campaigning in Bihar where he has actively sought to create fears that the grand alliance will “snatch” and “steal” the reservations quota from the Dalits and the backwards and give it to another community (read Muslims). He has has also spoken of what the BJP and the Congress have referred to as the “Darbhanga module of terror” maintaining that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad Yadav are protecting ‘terrorists’ in Bihar. And said in as many words that a Dalit woman police officer who was seeking to expose this module was transferred out of Bihar by the grand alliance leaders. The alliance leaders have attacked this, maintaining it was an attempt to communalise the environment and pit the two communities against each other.

The BJP and the government have taken a clear decision to quell the protests with a strong attack that has started with first dismissing the statements as counter ‘intolerance’ and projecting these as motivated politically. Scientist PM Bhargava told The Citizen that while he and other scientists stood firm in their opposition to all intolerance, he was not sure whether the government was going to take notice of it in a manner that would lead to constructive corrective measures. This concern has been voiced by intellectuals like Professor Romila Thapar and others as well over the past several days, with all pointing to an attack on them for speaking out by the BJP leaders and the front organisations.

The statement signed by the academics representing Universities across India reads:

“In light of the recent spate of killings of noted writers and intellectuals M. M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, and Narendra Dabholkar, and the Dadri lynching incident followed by forced nation-wide attempts at cultural policing, we feel that the current political dispensation headed by the Prime Minister is mandating an atmosphere of violence and fear.

The negligible response of the government to these growing incidents across the country, as also its silence at times of extreme distress, has provided tacit support to activities by those no longer at the ‘fringe’ but now occupying the mainstream. The scant condemnation accorded to these incidents by the government amounts to abstention from constitutional responsibility, and encouragement to greater hostility and aggression, especially against religious and caste minorities. The resolute silence of the political leadership at the Centre puts in question its own complicity in these events.

The very public culture of creative-critical freedom and the right to expression of dissent in the country are rapidly eroding, leaving in their place an order of intolerance and bigotry. The commitment to intellectual inquiry is being institutionally de-legitimised through steady cuts in education subsidies — including research grants and fellowships for scholars — even as protesting students are set upon by well-armed policemen. Centres and institutions of higher learning are being handed over to those who qualify only through their allegiance to ruling-party agendas. While conditions were not exactly pristine prior to May 2014, the climate of aggressive intolerance we are now witnessing seems to have been aggravated through the deliberate indifference and disengagement of those currently in power.

The obvious attempts at fear mongering, intimidating people into accepting undemocratic and inequitable ideas, and at imposing totalitarian, narrow, prejudiced and intolerant versions of ‘nation-hood’ and ‘national interest’ are designed to impede progressive thought and erode fundamental rights. Such impositions especially in matters of food, cultural practices and beliefs, are reprehensible and absolutely antithetical to the progressive course charted out in the Constitution.

We, the undersigned — as teachers and academics engaged in the pursuit of critical learning — wish to register our alarm and protest against the escalating incidents of violence and terror on targeted communities and citizens.

Some of the signatories include

1. Rina Ramdev (Sri Venkateswara College, DU) 2. Sandhya Devesan Nambiar (Jesus and Mary College, DU) 3. Debaditya Bhattacharya (Nivedita College, University of Calcutta) 4. Abhijit Kundu (Sri Venkateswara College, DU) 5. Tapan Basu (Delhi University) 6. Vinita Chandra (Ramjas College, DU) 7. Mihir Pandey (Ramjas College, DU) 8. Chitra Joshi (IP College, DU) 9. Janaki Nair (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 10. Moinak Biswas (Jadavpur University) 11. V. Sanil (IIT-Delhi) 12. Sharmila Purkayastha (Miranda House, DU) 13. Mukul Mangalik (Ramjas College, DU) 14. Nabaneeta Dev Sen (Retd., Jadavpur University) 15. Rashmi Doraiswamy (JamiaMilliaIslamia) 16. Rosinka Chadhuri, CSSSC 17. Supriya Chaudhuri (Jadavpur University, Emerita) 18. AnandaLal (Jadavpur University) 19. DebjaniSengupta (IP College, DU) 20. Abha Dev Habib (Miranda House, DU) 21. Vebhuti Duggal (JNU) 22. Aatreyee Ghosh (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 23. Padma Suresh (Sri Venkateswara College, DU) 24. Keval Arora (Kirori Mal College, DU) 25. Vidya Das Arora (Gargi College, DU) 26. Saikat Ghosh (SGTB Khalsa College, DU) 27. RoopaDhawan (Ramjas College, DU) 28. Nandini Dutta (Miranda House, DU) 29. T P Sabitha (Hansraj College, DU) 30. Monami Basu (Kamala Nehru College, DU) 31. Bindu Menon (Lady Shri Ram College, DU) 32. Franson Manjali (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 33. Aswathy Senan (Delhi University) 34. Mithuraj Dhusia (Hansraj College, DU) 35. RekhaBasu (Hindu College, DU) 36. Rudrashish Chakraborty (Kirori Mal College, DU) 37. Tanvir Aeijaz (Ramjas College, DU) 38. Rakesh Ranjan (Shri Ram College of Commerce, DU) 39. Sachin Narayanan (Dyal Singh College, DU) 40. Naveen Gaur (Dyal Singh College, DU) 41. Nilofer Kaul (Hansraj College, DU) 42. Rita Sinha (Janki Devi Memorial College, DU) 43. Giti Chandra (St. Stephen’s College, DU) 44. Karen Gabriel (St. Stephen’s College, DU) 45. P K Vijayan (Hindu College, DU) 46. Soumana Biswas (University of Calcutta) 47. Lakshmi Menon (NSS College for Women, Trivandrum) 48. Rohith P (DeenDayalUpadhyaya College, DU) 49. Sanam Khanna (Kamala Nehru College, DU) 50. BiswajitMohanty (Deshbandhu College, DU) 51. Ashwini Deshpande (Delhi School of Economics) 52. Lakshmi Subramanian (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta) 53. Manas Ray (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta) 54. Rajarshi Dasgupta (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 55. Ashley N P (St. Stephen’s College, DU) 56. NabanipaBhattacharjee (Sri Venkateswara College, DU) 57. Ratna Raman (Sri Venkateswara College, DU) 58. Nalini Nayak (Retd., PGDAV Morning College, DU) 59. Pulin Nayak (Retd., Delhi School of Economics) 60. Sunalini Kumar (Lady Shri Ram College, DU) 61. Mitali Mishra (Lady Shri Ram College, DU) 62. Richa (Central University of South Bihar) 63. Ahmer Anwer (Sri Venkateswara College, DU) 64. Nandita Narain (St. Stephen’s College, DU) 65. Trina Nileena Banerjee (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta) 66. Surajit Mukhopadhyay (West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences) 67. Uttama Ray (University of Calcutta) 68. Prakash Joshi (HarisinghGour Central University) 69. Rajeev Kunwar (Dyal Singh College, DU) 70. Pankaj Jha (Lady Shri Ram College, DU) 71. Meera Sagar (Miranda House, DU) 72. Anuradha Marwah (Zakir Husain College, DU) 73. Meenakshi Malhotra (Hansraj College, DU) 74. Saumyajit Bhattacharya (Kirori Mal College, DU) 75. V S Dixit (Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College, DU) 76. Susan George (Jesus and Mary College, DU) 77. Jennifer Monteiro (Jesus and Mary College, DU) 78. Sugandha Sehgal (Jesus and Mary College, DU) 79. Renny Thomas (Jesus and Mary College, DU) 80. Brahma Prakash (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 81. Sudakshina Ghosh (Nivedita College, University of Calcutta) 82. Anup Chatterjee 83. Rashmi Pant (Indraprastha College for Women, DU) 84. Vibhas Verma (Deshbandhu College, DU) 85. Nivedita Sen (Hansraj College, DU) 86. Rupleena Bose (Sri Venkateswara College, DU) 87. RajanKurai Krishnan (Ambedkar University, Delhi) 88. Rajiv Jha (Shri Ram College of Commerce, DU) 89. G. Arunima (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 90. Ranjani Mazumdar (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 91. Hilal Ahmed (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi) 92. Jayati Gupta (Tagore National Fellow) 93. Poushali Das (Nivedita College, University of Calcutta) 94. Yogesh Pratap Shekhar (Central University of South Bihar) 95. Shanker Dutt (Patna University) 96. Saswat S. Das (IIT-Kharagpur) 97. Taisha Abraham (Jesus and Mary College, DU) 98. KunalChattopadhyay (Jadavpur University) 99. Sajni Mukherji (Retd., Jadavpur University) 100. Ipshita Chanda (Jadavpur University) 101. Maroona Murmu (Jadavpur University) 102. Sumit Kumar Barua (Jadavpur University) 103. Aditi Chatterjee (La Martiniere School, Kolkata) 104. Somjyoti Mridha (NEHU, Shillong) 105. Moggallan Bharti (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 106. Benil Biswas (Ambedkar University, Delhi) 107. Vanessa Chisti (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 108. Renu Arora (Miranda House, DU) 109. Veena Hariharan (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 110. Rupleena Bose (Sri Venkateswara College, DU) 111. Ravikant (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi) 112. Nidhi Varma (Ambedkar University, Delhi) 113. Alok Rai (Retd., Delhi University) 114. K Satchidanandan (Retd., Calicut University, Kerala) 115. Udaya Kumar (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 116. Antara Datta (Janaki Devi DU) 117. Sumangala Damodaran (Ambedkar University, Delhi) 118. Nitoo Das (IP College Delhi University) 119. Pallavi Rastogi (Louisiana State University, US) 120. Mita Bose (IP CollegeDelhi University) 121. Krishna Lahiri Majumdar (Retd., Delhi University) 122. B. Rajeevan (Retd., Kerala University) 123. Savitri Rajeevan (Sankaracharya University, Kalady, Kerala) 124. Ankita Pandey (IP College, DU) 125. Madan Gopal Singh (Delhi University) 126. Prashant Kumar (Central University of South Bihar) 127. Samir Karmakar (Jadavpur University) 128. Sutapa Majumdar (SavitribhaiPhule Pune University) 129. Soma Marik (Ramakrishna Sarada Mission Vivekananda Vidyabhavan) 130. Avijit Kar (Jadavpur University) 131. Debarchana Sarkar (Jadavpur University) 132. Anindya Sengupta (Jadavpur University) 133. Abhijit Gupta (Jadavpur University) 134. Vivekananda Mukherjee (Jadavpur University) 135. Epsita Halder (Jadavpur University) 136. Nandini Saha (Jadavpur University) 137. Abhijit Chanda (Jadavpur University) 138. Pritha Chakrabarti (English and Foreign Languages University) 139. Madhvi Zutshi (SGTB Khalsa College, DU) 140. N A Jacob (Ramjas College, DU) 141. Deepika Tandon (Miranda House, DU) 142. Gourab Ghosh (GD Goenka University, Haryana) 143. Sonali Duttaroy (Delhi University) 144. Manidipa Sen (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 145. Oeendrila Lahiri (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 146. Swati Moitra (Delhi University) 147. Ira Bhaskar (Jawaharlal Nehru University) 148. Ranjan Ghosh (University of North Bengal) 149. Sujay Thakur (SGTB Khalsa College, DU) 150. Nandini Chandra (Delhi University) 151. AnuradhaBawa (College of Vocational Studies, DU) 152. Sudeshna Banerjee (Jadavpur University) 153. Suchetana Chattopadhyay (Jadavpur University) 154. Purushottam Bhattacharya (Jadavpur University) 155. Sucheta Bhattacharya (Jadavpur University) 156. Partha Pratim Basu (Jadavpur University) 157. Loiya Leima Oinam (Ramjas College, DU) 158. Susan Vishvananathan (JNU) 159. Avishek Parui (IIT Guwahati) 160. Sujata Tarafdar (Jadavpur University) 161. Biswadip Das (Jadavpur University) 162. Amit Bhattacharya ( Jadavpur University) 163. Abhijit Roy (Jadavpur University) 164. Tilottoma Mukherjee (Jadavpur University) 165. Partha Pritam Basu (Jadavpur University) 166. Bijoya Goswami (Jadavpur University) 167. Samantak Das (Jadavpur University) 168. Sabina Yasmin Rahman (JNU) 169. Nivedita Ghosh (Jesus and Mary College, DU) 170. Rajendra Parihar (Ramjas College, DU) 171. Kiran Keshavmurthy (CSSSC) 172. Sumana Roy (West Bengal Education Service) 173. Shruti Sareen (Delhi University) 174. Vipin Krishna (JNU) 175. Kamlanand Jha (Central University of South Bihar) 176. Shivani Kapoor (JNU) 177. Anita Cherian (Indraprastha College for Women) 178. Deeba Zafir (Laxmibai College DU) 179. Debraj Mookerjee (Ramjas College, DU) 180. Anup Dhar (Ambedkar University) 181. Anirban Das (CSSSC) 182. Emon Nandi (Calcutta University) 183. Banibrata Mahanta (BHU) 184. Rimli Bhattacharya (Delhi University) 185. Shyista A Khan (Dyal Singh College DU) 186. Anshuman Singh (Dyal Singh College DU) 187. Viraj Kafle (Dyal Singh College DU) 188. Sunil Kumar Mandiwal (Dyal Singh College DU) 189. Pema Yolmo (Dyal Singh College DU) 190. Adv. Shabana Khan 191. Vqueeram Aditya (Ambedkar University) 192. SavithriRajeevan 193. Javed Mallick (Retd DU) 194. Neeraj Mallick(Retd DU) 195. Keshab Bhattacharya (Jadavpur University) 196. Rochona Das (Jadavpur University)AkhilKatyal (Shiv Nadar University) 197. DeepthaAchar (MS University, Baroda) 198. Dilip Simeon (Retd. Ramjas college DU) 199. Rongili Biswas (Kolkatta University) 200. Sanjoy Kumar Saha (Jadavpur University)