Literary world backs Murugan, condemns administration

The Hindu’s literary festival, Lit for Life 2015, in Chennai on Saturday adopted a resolution condemning attempts to silence Tamil writer Perumal Murugan. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The Hindu Lit for Life 2015 has expressed solidarity with writer and novelist Perumal Murugan and condemned the attempt to silence him.

“We, the community of concerned citizens – writers, readers, publishers, journalists, and cultural practitioners – assembled at The Hindu’s literary festival, Lit for Life 2015, in Chennai condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the attempt to silence the brilliant Tamil writer Perumal Murugan and stand in full solidarity with him,” a resolution adopted at the festival said.

The resolution also alleged that the extremist Hindutva activists, casteist organisations and other vested interests had ganged up in Tamil Nadu’s Namakkal district to run a vicious campaign against his historical novel, Madhorubhagan, which was originally published in 2010 and brought out in English translation in 2013 under the title One Part Woman.

The festival also registered its strong protest against the local administration, alleging that instead of protecting Mr. Murugan’s constitutional rights, it had abetted the campaign of intimidation and threats of violence against the writer by ‘summoning’ him and making him sign a silencing ‘agreement’ under duress.

“We note that the attitude and conduct of the local administration in this test case is in flagrant violation of the Supreme Court of India’s landmark ruling that the fundamental right of freedom of expression, as long as it cannot be constitutionally restricted under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution, ‘cannot be suppressed on account of threat of demonstration and processions or threats of violence,’ that ‘the State cannot plead its inability to handle the hostile audience problem,’ and that ‘it is its obligatory duty to prevent it and protect the freedom of expression.,” the resolution noted.

“We are deeply saddened that under these disgraceful circumstances, a writer at the height of his creative powers has announced his decision to give up writing and withdraw all his books,” it said.

Reiterating that literature and society became poorer every time the forces of intimidation and censorship were allowed to prevail against the forces of creative utterance, the resolution commended Mr. Murugan’s publishers, Kalachuvadu, for refusing to buckle under pressure and for standing up for the writer’s creative freedom.

“We are heartened by the spontaneous rallying of the Tamil literary community of writers and readers around one of their own. We emphasize that the silencing ‘agreement’ has no basis in law or morality,” it said and called upon the State government to take immediate action against those responsible for intimidating the writer and to ensure that a conducive atmosphere was created for him to live in his locale and resume his literary career.

Noting that the “broader issues that arise from this distressing episode are vitally important for all of us,” the resolution called upon State and Central authorities, political parties, and civil society to respect and protect freedom of expression as an inalienable fundamental right, and to resist and counter the trend of growing intolerance, intimidation and censorship.

Key Developments

  • BJP, RSS demand ban on 'Madhorubagan' and arrest of the author. Copies burnt at Tiruchengode. >Read more
  • The Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artistes Association express solidarity with Mr. Murugan >Read more
  • Hindutva ideologue and writer Aravindan Neelakantan reiterated that the RSS had never favoured the idea of banning books. >Read more
  • Peace restored in Tiruchengode after an agreement between Mr. Murugan and various members of Hindu outfits. >Read more
>Read more » >Read more » >Read more »

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"When its copies were burnt, I wondered if there was any point in writing for such a society"

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 2:57:32 AM |

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