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Why Karnataka police should offer complete security to top rationalist Narendra Nayak

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

After the Karnataka polls were declared last week, the police administration in Mangalore was quick to withdraw the security, provided since 2016 to eminent rationalist and President of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Association ( FIRA) Dr Narendra Nayak. Dr Nayak has been not merely active promoting rationalism and scientific thinking all over the country; he has also been associated with consumer movement for the last five decades.
The decision of the Mangalore police came a rude shock to Dr Nayak who has been under constant threat like many other rationalists such as Narendra Dabholkar, Gauri Lankesh, Govind Pansare and Dr MM Kalburgi.
There is enough evidence to suggest that the humanist-rationalists have become a ‘threat’ to the very idea of hatred and superstition, one reason why they become a target of hate mongers, most of whom feel that their work is against Hindutva. However, the fact is, all of them have devoted their life to reasoning and rationality.
The first to have been assassinated was Dabholkar who had been working against superstition and wanted an anti-superstition law in Maharashtra. He was assassinated on August 20th, 2013 in Pune. The next person in line was Pansare who was murdered on February 20th, 2015. Kalburgi was the next to get assassinated at Dharwad, Karnataka on August 30th, 2015. And Gauri Lankesh was killed on September 5th, 2017 in Bangaluru.
Investigation into their murder has still not seen much progress. Meanwhile, we continue to read how some people get released in the absence of any ‘proof’. There has been threat to others we well. However, as Karnataka is the new laboratory of the south, we see new threats continue to emerge – the latest being to noted Kannada writer KS Bhagwan.
Dr Nayak says he has been the target of hatred and intimidation, and that is why he was provided with police security since 2016:
“The gunman provided to me by the police from June, 2016 has been removed with effect from today. I had not asked for this security at any time but it was said to have been provided following threats to the lives of us prominent rationalists. Narendra Dhabolkar was murdered in 2013 and after that Pansare, Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. About a month ago I had a letter from the DCP of Mangalore police that henceforth I should pay for the security provided. While I had not asked for it and I am not a wealthy person to pay for my own protection as mentioned in that letter. I had replied in writing to the same stating all the facts after meeting the concerned person.”
In March first week, Dr Nayak got a letter from DCP Mangalore Anshu Kumar informing him about the withdrawal of security and asking for advance payment if that he needs security. It seems that the police administration wants him to pay for his security, which is difficult for a person who is a pensioner. He has not been informed whether the threat perception against him has diluted or does not exist any more.
It is the duty of the administration to convince him about this, but asking for advance payment for security only proves that the there is still no dilution of threat perception.
Humanist-rationalists have become threat to hatred and superstition, one reason why they are a target of Hindutva hate mongers
The fact is that the threat perception on Dr Nayak continues not merely for his work against superstition and rationalism. He has also been actively involved in exposing the forces behind the murder case of RTI activist Vinayak Baliga. He says:
“There are a number of extremist elements out to get me for my work as a rationalist and to uphold principles of secularism human and democratic rights. Right now, the trial of the RTI activist Vinayak Baliga is going on and witnesses have complained to the court that they are being threatened. This is the case in which I had played a major role in getting the proper investigation done and real culprits prosecuted. The people behind this are very politically powerful individuals and are supposedly threatening the witnesses.”
Dr Nayak played an important role to get the culprit exposed. Baliga was murdered in March 2016. As the trial began in June 2016, Nayak said, he was called and offered police perception. To quote him:
“I was called by Sri Chandrashekar, the commissioner of Police for Mangalore, and he informed me that police protection would be provided for me. I did ask the reason and he said nothing specific. However, keeping in mind the state of affairs and the murder of Pansare and Kalburgi I accepted the same.
“Because of my involvement in the exposure of the Vinayak Baliga case, I have also received threatening messages from devotees of Kashi mutt one of whom threatened to eliminate me. An FIR was filed at Urwa Police station but was later transferred to Juvenile court because the first part of it was made a few days before the accused attained the adult age.
“Later on in March,2017 when I was going to the swimming pool early in the morning an attempt was made on my life and I escaped because I was quick and did not stop. After that the security was enhanced to 24 hours with two gunmen on duty and it has continued ever since.
“Again, during investigation of the Gauri Lankesh murder by the SIT, newspapers have carried a write up about how a chit with four names with the person assigned to carry out the task of eliminating each was discovered. My name was among the four and the same one who had shot Gauri had been assigned to end my life too.”

Dr Nayak has mentioned this in his letter to the Anshu Kumar, DCP police, who has asked him to make payment for his security. He is not in a position to make any payment for his security, but the fact is, he needs protection, which has been provided by the police. The National Human Rights Commission needs to look into the issue and seek an explanation from the Mangalore police.
It is deeply distressing that despite knowing the threat perception, Dr Nayak is being asked to pay for his security. He is an asset to any society that believes in humanism and scientific temper. He has been consistently carrying out training programmes, lectures, workshops and seminars on exposing the myths and irrational practices which endanger lives of millions of people. We have seen how people love to see his miracle-exposure programmes in villages.
Free thinkers, humanists and rationalists are not a threat to society but provide vibrancy to democratic values and civilised behaviour. They bring reasoning and rationality in any discussions. They are not religion haters, as they are being projected. Most of the humanists always spoken against discrimination based on religion and caste, especially untouchability.
In today’s world when religion is being used to punish people and create majoritarian discriminatory viewpoints, it is humanism and rationality that will save the world.
One is hopeful that the Mangalore police as well as the Karnataka government would provide ample security to Dr Nayak so that he can move around without any fear and continue to do what he has been doing over the years.
If the police feels that the threat perception does not exit, it must explain to him and must take the responsibility for anything that might happen to Dr Nayak. But the administration cannot and should not ask him to pay for his security.
---
*Human rights defender

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