Perils of being an activist who fights fundamentalism: Story of Vidya Dinker

By: Maitreyee Boruah
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This gusty and articulate woman from Mangaluru, social-activist Vidya Dinker, needs no introduction.

Recently, when she was in Bengaluru to interact with students and fellow activists, she was applauded for standing against growing fundamentalism in the coastal city of Karnataka.

Vidya Dinker

Vidya garnered the attention of national media, when she filed a police complaint demanding action against Bajrang Dal members. She stood against the "goons of Bajrang Dal" (as she prefers to address them), who forcibly stopped the screening of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Dilwale in theatres.

She had received murder and rape threats on the social media for taking on the members of the "most powerful right-wing Hindu group" in Mangaluru.

The right-wing Hindu outfit had stalled the screening of the movie in protest against Shah Rukh Khan's comment on the growing "religious intolerance" in the country.

Received death and rape threats

Lamenting over the state of social and political affairs in her home town, Vidya said, "The theatre managements had stopped the screening of the movie fearing attack from the Hindu activists. They were just a group of 15 Bajrang Dal members, who stopped the screening of the film. They've perpetrated fear in the minds of the people. Several such cases go unreported."

"When I protested, I was threatened and bullied. They threatened to rape and kill me, on social media. I have filed a complaint against 24 Bajrang Dal activists. I won't stay silent. The goons can't misuse social media to intimidate people," she added.

Vidya Dinker

However, the activist is happy today as she has won the "battle" against the fundamentalists.

"The screening of the film resumed in the theatres after we protested and police provided additional security. We need to stand up and raise our voice against groups and people, who threaten the democratic and secular fabric of the country. Tolerating intolerance is encouraging intolerance," she told.

Being spied on by her enemies

Vidya revealed that she was constantly being spied on by fundamentalists. "I know people sitting in cars, right outside my home in Mangaluru, keeping a tab on my daily activities. They are all Bajrang Dal goons. I am also careful. I don't venture out alone," she said.

Modi's development slogan is a mere rhetoric

The activist is critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popular election slogan on development. "We all know Modi won't work for the development of the country. It was just an election slogan to win votes. So, to win the next election, BJP is dividing the country on religious grounds," she said.

Is the media saffron too?

Vidya alleges that the local media in Mangaluru is totally saffron in nature, indicating that journalists are aligned with Hindu right-wing groups.

"Most of the local journalists in Mangaluru are saffron. They did not report on the entire controversy surrounding the ban on Dilwale enforced by the Bajrang Dal goons and the subsequent threat on my life. In fact, I got calls from concerned journalists from various parts of India. After the issue was highlighted on national media, everyone started talking about it," she revealed.

Hindu fundamentalism versus Islamic fundamentalism

It is not just Hindu fundamentalism that is dictating the lives of the people. "The atmosphere of the city has been vitiated by both Hindu and Islamic fundamentalism. The sense of fear among the residents is palpable. Today, youngsters can't meet and talk with their friends without fear," she said.

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