• Writers stage a demonstration against increasing intolerance at Sahitya Akademi in New Delhi, on Oct 23, 2015.IANS
  • Historian of of ancient and medieval India Irfan Habib.Wikimedia Commons/Amber Habib

At the protest meet of artists and writers in Delhi on Sunday, intellectuals hit out at the ruling government over the "manufactured rebellion" allegations, and historian Irfan Habib said that RSS is not less than Islamic State, the Islamic extremist outfit active in Iraq and Syria.

"There is not much difference between Islamic state (ISIS) and the RSS as far as their intellect goes," Habib, historian of ancient and medieval India, said in his speech, PTI reported.

At least 350 historians, intellectuals, scientists and artistes gathered in Delhi on Sunday in an event – 'Pratirodh' – to condemn the rising violence and intolerance in the country.

They hit back at Union Finance Miniter Arun Jaitley and Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu for calling their protest a "rebellion" "manufactured" by the Congress and Leftist parties. Jaitley had said in a blog that pro-Congress and pro-Leftists are trying to portray India as intolerant nation through "structured and organised propaganda", according to NDTV report.

Hitting out at Jaitley for his remark, noted poet Ashok Vajpeyi accused the ruling government of manufacturing "politics of hatred, violence, killing and ignorance". 

"The President, the Reserve Bank governor and leading industrialist Narayan Murthy have joined this manufactured politics. Some of us had returned our awards and now the number has crossed 40. And we are being accused of practising manufactured politics," he said.

"Sir, the politics of hatred, violence, killing and ignorance is being manufactured by you."

Historian Romila Thapar, who was also at the event, said Jaitley's remark "is a much bigger, deeper attack and this is not just an attack on history, on literature. It's an attack on the intellectuals. We are going through a period of anti-intellectualism", IANS reported.

"But our protest is being referred to as 'manufactured rebellion'. The protest is being registered all over the country and by various sections of the society. We are demanding that the crisis and mayhem should be brought to an end," she added.

She said that their protest has nothing do to with their political inclination as it demands for a "liberal space" for intelligentsia.

"Many of us are Leftists but many of us are not Leftists. What the protest is about is the need for a liberal space and this being emphasized again and again," Thapar said.

"A rebellion is a movement against the existence of the state. We are not demanding the removal of the state. We are demanding that the crisis of murder and mayhem that has overtaken Indian society should be brought to an end," the 83-year-old historian noted.

She even rubbished the allegations of the ruling BJP government that the Indian intelligentsia did not return their awards when the Emergency happened and when several Sikhs were massacred in 1984 riots under the Congress-led UPA government. She said she had refused to accept Padma awards from Congress governments twice.

In protest against the murder of noted rationalist Kannada writer MM Kalburgi and lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri over the rumours that he ate beef, several writers returned their Sahitya Akademi Awards. Many filmmakers too returned their national awards in protest of growing intolerance and in solidarity with the FTII protest.

Recently, eminent scientist PM Bhargava too decided to return his Padma Bhushan, while hundreds of other scientists signed an online petition, addressed to President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, lodging their protest against the rising intolerance in the society.