Nayantara Sahgal, 91, an renowned Indian writer and a Sahitya Akademi awardee was at the forefront of the ‘award wapsi’ campaign in 2015. Her invitation to the All India Marathi Literary Meet has now been withdrawn after some people threatened to disrupt the event.
The decision was taken to “avoid any untoward incident and in view of the controversy that has cropped up against her name”, after a political outfit threatened to disrupt the function, the organisers said Sunday.
Sahgal was to inaugurate the 92nd literary meet on 11th January in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis along with the noted Marathi author Aruna Dhere who will also preside over the event.
In a press release issued Sunday, working president of the literary meet reception committee Ramakant Kolte confirmed that the organisers have taken cognisance of the threat given by a political outfit.
“Nayantara Sahgal’s name was proposed by the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal chief Shreepad Joshi of Nagpur which was accepted by the organisers. A follow-up was taken by sending her a formal invitation.”
The press release also stated the organisers had decided to revoke Sahgal’s invitation,
“as a controversy has cropped up against her name and to avoid any untoward incident from those who threatened to derail the literary meet”.
While announcing that a new name for the inauguration will be finalised shortly, Kolte said:
“We have sent her a letter cancelling the invitation.”
However, the Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal (ABMSM) categorically denied reports that they had any link to the decision of withdrawing the invite and stated that the same was taken by the local level organisers themselves.
“There were newspaper reports about objections and (likely) protests to Nayantara Sahgal inaugurating the event. It was being said that some people would not let the literary meet function. Hence, to avoid any obstruction and untoward incident, the organising committee at the local level decided to send a withdrawal letter to Sahgal.
“This is not the directive of the Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal. It is the local organising committee which has taken the decision.”
Earlier, speaking at the inaugural session of 89th annual Marathi literary meet at Pimpri-Chinchwad in 2016, poet Gulzar first spoke about ‘intolerant attitude’, reiterating his dissatisfaction over the rising intolerance in the country. He then quoted:
“Even if the universe remains silent, writers will continue to express even if their tongues are cut.”