Prakash Raj receives Karanth award, saffron outfits protest

Udupi: Actor Prakash Raj who had triggered  a huge controversy with his remarks on PM Modi, was honoured with ‘Shivarama Karanth Huttura Prashasti’ on Tuesday amidst opposition from the BJP and saffron outfits.

Mr Raj had questioned the PM’s silence on the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh at a recent programme in Bengaluru which made saffron outfits stage the protest against conferring the award on him. Despite the stiff opposition, Kotatattu panchayat which is ruled by members backing the BJP, decided to go ahead and present the award to the well known actor who has excelled in villain roles. Raj was given a grand welcome and confered the award on Tuesday evening.

Expressing his happiness over receiving the award, Raj said, “It is like coming to my grandfather’s place. I am like a grandson of Karanth. If I am straight forward, I am not to be blamed, Karanth, Lankesh and Tejaswi are responsible,” he said.

He said that despite the opposition, he received the award respecting the sentiments of  fans of Shivarama Karanth. “There is a planned plot to create fear which is dangerous. Isn't there freedom of speech? Words should be countered with words, not with murder and violence. Isn’t an effort to stop somebody from speaking equal to violence? What is the mistake in speaking out? I speak for myself,” Raj said.

He declined to react to the BJP's protest saying, “To protest is their right. Karanth too had said this. It is not important who had won or lost. The award had to be conferred and it has been done. This is a moment of defeat for those trying to curb freedom of expression. Targeting me on personal issues will not work. Like Karanth, I will not withdraw from my decisions,” he said.

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