Prakash Raj, actor and film-maker, said on Tuesday that it is essential to have a society free of fear where people can express their views without feeling afraid.
He received the Kota Shivaram Karanth Huttura Prashasti amid protests by members of mostly right-wing groups, including the BJP Yuva Morcha, close to the venue of the function. However, these protests took place before the award presentation. The police arrested around 100 protesters at Kota and Brahmavar. There was tight police security at the venue.
Replying to questions from reporters after receiving the award at the Kota Shivaram Karanth Theme Park, Mr. Raj said there was a systematic pattern being followed to frighten people by trolling them and focussing on their personal lives. The intention is to make those who question feel lonely, he said. “I will not be cowed by such attempts. The people of the State, including writers, littérateurs and the awards committee, stood steadfast in their decision, just like the late Shivaram Karanth, of carrying on with the award presentation. This is not a question of who won and who lost. I am delighted to receive the award,” he said.
On leaders of political parties staying away from the function, Mr. Raj said he was not interested in political issues. “My issue is there should be freedom of expression in society. It does not matter if there are differences. But there should be freedom to speak out these differences,” he said.
‘Feel like a grandson’
Earlier, speaking at the awards function, Mr. Raj apologised to the audience if any inconvenience was caused to them because of recent incidents. “I adore Karanth so much that by coming here, I feel like a grandson who has come to meet his grandfather. Karanth practised what he spoke. He was an outspoken person,” he said.
“I have grown up reading Karanth. That is why I too am like this… Karanth once said that if you know that you are right, you should stand for it,” Mr. Raj said to applause.
He said those wanting to protest should be allowed to do so. But protests should not be derogatory. “Imposing fear is worse than cruelty… Silencing a person is akin to killing him. It is not a question of the Left or the Right, or of any political party. We want a society where we and our children can live in peace and can express our views freely.”