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Why Modi Government's Persecution of Intellectuals Should Worry Us All

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12.02.2019

The Assamese Sahitya Akademi awardee, Hiren Gohain has been charged with sedition, and Dalit scholar Anil Teltumbde is facing a prison sentence on charges of being part of an ‘urban Maoist’ plot to incite violence at Bhima Koregaon. Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves – some of the most respected voices in the field of tribal rights activism – were arrested last year on similar charges.

Incidentally, Ferreira and Gonsalves were arrested by previous governments as well, and subsequently released.

Many others who, though not in prison, are nonetheless being systematically harassed on various pretexts and, of course, being trolled viciously on social media. In fact, in August 2018, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, a senior BJP MLA from Karnataka’s Vijayapura, went so far as to declare that he would have ordered the police to shoot intellectuals had he been the Union home minister.

Not just individuals, but entire universities with a strong liberal, academic ethos like Jawaharlal Nehru University are finding themselves attacked, maligned and facing huge budget cuts.

Why are intellectuals and institutes of higher learning posing such a grave threat to the powers that be? And more specifically, why should it matter to the rest of us?

Also read: In JNU, the Slow Destruction of a Public Institution

The more commonly accepted definition of an intellectual is something along the lines of “a person who places a high value on or pursues things of interest to the intellect or the more complex forms and........

© The Wire