October 14, 2016
Once again, we raise our voices against the curbing of freedom of speech. At a literary meeting organised by the Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad, writers Pradnya Pawar and Dr Raosaheb Kasabe had to leave the venue. They were asked to apologise for “hurting the sentiments of the Maratha community” and their “objectionable” statements on Shivaji. Of course, the “protestors” had not even heard the writers’ speeches.
In fact, the two talks were well received: Pawar spoke about cultural terrorism, and Kasabe spoke of caste hegemony. Who can take on these issues if not writers and scholars like them? Dalit writer Pradnya Pawar was among the large group of writers who returned their Akademi awards in 2015 to protest growing assaults on the cultural fraternity and minorities. Dr Kasabe is a highly respected dalit scholar who has also been critical of the RSS attempt to appropriate Dr Ambedkar.
It is clear to them, and to us, that this is one more brazen attempt at curbing the rights of dalits, especially the critical voices among them. It is clear to them, as to us, that these are not “spontaneous protests”, but planned by the right wing to muffle our writers who insist on speaking and writing about Indian realities as they know them.
We call on citizens of conscience to join us in supporting Pawar, Kasabe, and telling all writers, dalit or otherwise: Speak on. We are with you.
Jawari Mal Parakh
Shyam B. Menon
R. T. Muthu
T. M. Krishna