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Udupi: Prakash Rai accepts Karanth award amid protests, says 'inflicting fear worse than cruelty'

Silvester D'Souza
Daijiworld Media Network - Udupi (SP)


Udupi, Oct 10: "Inflicting a sense of fear is always worse than cruelty itself. In present-day society, the task of inflicting fear in the minds of people is being executed in a systematic manner. We are not in need of left or right schools of thought. We should work towards the creation of future society that is happy and contented. A society in which opinions can be freely expressed without any fear is the need of the hour. Dr Shivaram Karanth also earnestly wanted this to happen. We should work together to see that our next generation inherits the freedom of speech," opined multi-linguistic television, cine actor and director, Prakash Rai.

He was addressing the gathering after accepting the annual 'Dr Karanth Huttura Prashasthi' award conferred on him at a programme held at Shivaram Karanth Theme Park at Kota in the taluk on Tuesday October 10.

"I grew along with my people around me. I am not a person who can deceive my conscience. Cheating one's conscience is equivalent to deceiving the nature and society. Protesting is never wrong. But creating terror in the minds of people is more dangerous than treating people with cruelty. I can see deep-rooted fear now in the eyes of my mother, small child etc," he explained.

Rai said that when he was informed that he was chosen for the award being given in the name of Dr Karanth, he felt very happy. "Today I have a feeling of visiting the home of my grandfather. Speaking about Dr Karanth always gives me a feeling of thrill. If he could write at 96, he is really like a gigantic tree," he added.

Prakash Rai said that there are many who speak about Dr Karanth wtthout really knowing nothing about him. "There is life in the literature created by Dr Karanth. It has forests, life values, and curtness with which truth is told without fear or favour. I have always been a fan of the thinkings and writings of Dr Karanth," he said. Rai also explained that he made up his mind to come here to accept the award in the midst of so much criticism and opposition just because he did not want to hurt the feelings of good-hearted samaritans who like this literary genius.

The function was presided over by Kotathattu gram panchayat president, Pramod Hande. District president of Kannada Sahitya Parishad, Neelavara Suredra Adiga, inaugurated the programme. Movie director, G Murthy, Saligrama town panchayat president, Ratna Nagaraj, Kota gram panchayat president, Vanita Sridhar Acharya, and taluk panchayat executive officer, Mohanraj, were present.

President of the foundation, Anand C Kunder, welcomed. Member of the awards committee, T B Shetty, delivered introductory address, while another member, U S Shenoy, explained about the selection process. Cultural thinker, Sridhar Hande, introduced the dignitary in Yakshagana style. Kotathattu gram panchayat development officer proposed vote of thanks. Prasad Manuru compered the programme.

Tension erupts in Kota, protesters wave black flags

Various organizations including BJP had been demanding that the annual award being given by Kotathattu gram panchayat should not be conferred on popular actor and director, Prakash Rai. The foundation which had chosen Rai for the award stood firm in its decision to go ahead with the awards function as it took the stand that Prakash Rai was chosen for the award before he courted controversy through certain statements which angered certain people and organizations. It therefore said that there is no question of modifying its decision. The foundation also stood its ground, asserting that making changes in the decision at this stage would be an insult to Dr Shivaram Karanth who stood for free speech. The foundation had continued to request the concerned to keep away from the plan to hold protests even till October 9.

However, since October 10 afternoon, protesters began pouring into Kota from various parts of the district. When the protesters got together on national highway, police contingent which was present in good strength, tried to convince them to take back the protest. As they did not succeed in their efforts, they began arresting the protesters. In the meanwhile, the protesters waved black flags on national highway before Prakash Rai entered Kota. They were however taken into custody immediately.

Presidents of Kundapur area BJP units and other leaders took part in the protest and courted arrest. District superintendent of police, deputy superintendent of police, police circle inspectors, and station house officers of various police stations in the district had arrived at Kota to enforce discipline and monitor law and order situation.

No black flags for Rai at Theme Park

The police, who were aware about the plan to show black flag to Rai, had made elaborate arrangement to see that black flags were not waved at Rai. When Rai came to the Theme Park premises, no black flags were waved but a few minutes before his arrival, two unidentified persons waved black flags at the main entrance to the venue.

Award issue hits national headlines

The award, being given by a gram panchayat made national headlines this time, thanks to the controversy created by Prakash Rai's utterances. People also came to the programme from various parts of the district due to the publicity the incident got. In spite of tight polce security, the gathering this time was larger than it was during previous years. Kota, native place of Dr Shivaram Karanth, got wide attention because of the controversy over the award this year.

Kota Srinivas Poojary stays away

As already announced, MLC, Kota Srinvias Poojary, stayed away from the awards function, although he had played an important role in the institution of this coveted award. Poojary was also instrumental in the creation of a grand theme park dedicated to Dr Karanth at Kota. Since the last 12 years, awards were decided and handed over apolitically and Poojary had led each of the awards functions from the front in the past. However, as his party, BJP, opposed the choice of awardee this time, Poojary had decided to toe the party line and had announced in advance his decision not to take part in the programme. MP, Shobha Karandlaje, too had announced that she would not participate in the programme.


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Title : Udupi: Prakash Rai accepts Karanth award amid protests, says 'inflicting fear worse than cruelty'


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