India

Agra event to honour International Booker Prize winner Geetanjali Shree called off after police complaint

Participants expressed shock at the attack on literary figures at the event in Agra on Saturday. 

Participants expressed shock at the attack on literary figures at the event in Agra on Saturday.  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement 

An event to honour International Booker Prize winner Geetanjali Shree in Agra was called off on Saturday after a police complaint was lodged against the author alleging that her work contained objectionable comments against Hindu deities.

However, the organisers went ahead with a discussion on her work where scores of literature enthusiasts turned up in solidarity with the author.

In May, Ms. Shree became the first Indian author to win the International Booker Prize for her novel Ret Samadhi, which was translated into English as Tomb of Sand by American translator Daisy Rockwell.

‘Author hurt by development’

“The public felicitation was postponed as the author told us she was hurt by the development and would not like to participate in a social event for the time being,” said Ram Bharat Upadhayay, the spokesperson of the organising committee of the event.

Mr. Upadhayay told The Hindu that the day the complaint was lodged at Sadabad town in neighbouring Hathras district, some anti-social elements tried to disrupt a felicitation event of the author at Jawaharlal Nehru University. “There could be a connection between the incidents and her decision.”

Mr. Upadhayay said a discussion on Ret Samadhi was organised in Agra where noted litterateurs participated and the event passed off peacefully. Participants expressed shock at the attack on literary figures at the event presided over by Harnarayan, editor of the literary magazine, Kathadesh.

R.C. Sharma, a professor of history, said mythology should not be confused with history. “There is no point in creating controversy over the mythical reference to Shiva and Parvati in Ret Samadhi.” The event also saw the dramatic reading of the author’s popular story, Private Life.

‘No FIR lodged’

Meanwhile, Ashish Kumar Singh, SHO of the Sadabad police station, said when Sandeep Kumar Pathak, a reader in the local court, lodged the complaint, he was told it did not come under the jurisdiction of the Hathras police as the publisher was based in Delhi.

“As it is a matter involving an author of repute and about a book that is in the public domain for some time, we felt the charges didn’t warrant immediate action, and the FIR was not lodged. We wanted to understand if there was merit in his charges. But the complainant started approaching the media and wrote to higher authorities in Lucknow,” Mr. Singh said.

While the author chose to remain silent, her publisher, Ashok Maheshwari, said he was shocked and hurt by the recent developments.

“Civil society’s growth depends on good literature and healthy dialogue. We have to maintain a conducive environment for the creative expression of our writers and intellectuals. It is the collective responsibility of an educated society,” he said.

“There is no point in creating controversy over the mythical reference to Shiva and Parvati in Ret Samadhi”R.C. SharmaProfessor of history


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Printable version | Jul 31, 2022 11:22:28 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/agra-event-to-honour-international-booker-prize-winner-geetanjali-shree-called-off-after-police-complaint/article65704208.ece