Chetan Kumar, the Kannada actor and activist, has filed a defamation suit against Karnataka Labour Minister Arbail Shivram Hebbar, for the latter’s tweets against him, before a Civil court in Bengaluru seeking one rupee as damages, LiveLaw reported.
The actor has also sought a complete unconditional apology to be published through the minister’s Twitter handle for posting defamatory statements on the micro-blogging site on June 11.
On June 11, Hebbar took to Twitter to condemn Chetan’s statements on social media, calling them “derogatory and provocative against Brahmins” and said that they are “contrary to the constitution and insult the architect of the constitution Ambedkar.” Hebbar also appealed to the Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa to arrest Chetan and take ‘stern action’.
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Chetan said that Hebbar has “used demeaning and offensive language such as ‘ganji kaasu’ in his tweets, attacking me personally and alleging that I am speaking out against injustice for financial benefit.”
The actor added, “As the current Labour Minister in a party that is in power both in Karnataka state and in the centre, he is also directly influencing the powers-to-be to put me in jail for my democratic rights of free speech and for upholding the values our Constitution writer Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and other Bahujan icons such as EVR Periyar spent their entire lives championing.”
“We ask that Mr Hebbar use the power the people of Karnataka have given him as an elected MLA to speak for the benefit of society as a whole rather than anti-Constitutional elements who aim to retain inequality in our society,” he further said.
Chetan, the Udaya Best Debut Actor awardee for the Kannada Film Aa Dinagalu, has been outspoken against caste politics over the years.
Recently, the actor had tweeted about Brahminism on June 6 quoting BR Ambedkar and Periyar. Earlier, in a two-part video, he had also spoken about how Brahmins are using religion and caste for vote bank politics and how Ambedkar’s ideology has been gradually killed. He also said there’s a need to restore the ideologies of Buddha, Ambedkar, Periyar and Basava, and walk on their path.
Following these tweets, the Karnataka State Brahmin Development Board submitted a complaint against the actor on June 9, demanding an unconditional apology for using “derogatory comments against the Brahmin community.”
The actor once again took to Twitter on June 11 and 12 and wrote: “In [the] history of Brahminism, privileged castes have been unproductive and unscientific; Dalit-Shudras have been rational, democratic, productive. Today, undercurrent of social unrest is undeniable.”
Following this, another complaint was filed by a member of the Vishva Hindu Parishad against the actor for allegedly hurting their religious beliefs on social media. The complainant accused him of “raking communal caste sentiments and caste conflagrations resulting in social disharmony in a country with pluralistic ethos” and sought to deport the actor, who was born and brought up in the United States, and revoke his Indian Residential Permit.
On June 15, the actor was issued a summon from the Basavanagudi Police Station, Bengaluru, to appear for inquiry regarding his social media post ‘against Brahminism’.