• Writers against Self-censorship

    "We have to fight the hounding of writers with every word we have..."

    Statement from the Indian Writers' Forum

    July 23, 2018

    The thugs policing our cultural fraternity have struck again. In response to the violent threats against his family, Malayalam writer S Hareesh has now withdrawn his novel Meesa (Moustache) being serialised by Mathrubhumi, stating that he will publish it when “the climate is congenial”.

    Meesa is the first novel written by Hareesh, winner of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award for short fiction​. The first three chapters of this novel were published in serial form by Mathrubhumi weekly, raising great expectations among readers. Then right​-wing groups began a campaign of intimidation that has become only too familiar in recent years.  

    Hareesh was accused of “hurting religious sentiments” and “maligning Hindus”. He was threatened that his hand would be chopped off  ​to “teach him a lesson”. He was abused and threatened on social media, forcing him to deactivate his accounts. Members of his family were viciously trolled. Copies of the weekly were burnt, prompting the editor to tweet that literature is being mob lynched. ​

    Hareesh has been attacked for a reference one of the characters in the novel makes to women's visits to the temple. It was a character speaking, not the author; the serialisation of the novel had just begun and the characters were getting established. Such disintegrated reading would make all of literature, cinema and art vulnerable to similar dastardly attacks. Moreover, disagreement with and disapproval of a novel cannot take the form of harassment or threats. The goons who attack expressions of our multiple cultures want us to lose more than one novel.

    Several writers in Kerala have already expressed their solidarity with Hareesh. As writers and readers, as citizens of a democracy, we cannot wait for “the climate” to change. It is we writers and artists who create the cultural climate and not communal politicians.​ We have to insist that we have the freedom of expression essential for a diverse society to express itself; the critical imagination required to examine the divisions in our society, past and present; and to exercise the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution.

    We cannot have a repeat of the Perumal Murugan story where the writer was hounded into declaring himself dead as a writer. We cannot have more attacks like the recent one on poet Kureeppuzha Sreekumar in Kerala or other writers in different parts of the country. The list is growing. We appeal to all our colleagues in the cultural fraternity to resist being hounded by the right​-​wing groups into self-censorship. We call on the central government and state governments to commit to a safe milieu for writers and artists to do their work.

    No writer should be hounded into putting down his or her pen. No democracy, indeed no culture, can live if its writers are silent. This is why we have to fight against this hounding of writers into self-censorship with every word we have.

    K Satchidanandan         

    NS Madhavan              

    Paul Zacharia

    TM Krishna   

    Shashi Deshpande              

    Sunil P Elayidom 

    Ganesh Devy 


    Ritu Menon           

    Chandan Gowda       

    Arshia Sattar

    Rafeeq Ahammed            

    Manoj Kuroor

    Dona Mayoora

    Shekhar Pathak     

    Banani Chakravarty      

    Madhav Palshikar

    Pramod Munghate     

    Srilata K               

    Kavitha Murlidharan     

    Geetanjali Shree    

    Ananya Vajpeyi

    Indira Chandrasekhar

    Mangalesh Dabral

    Makarand Sathe

    Amarjit Chandan


    Aruna Roy

    Githa Hariharan   

    Nayantara Sahgal

    Romila Thapar

    Perumal Murugan

    Kiran Nagarkar

    KP Ramanunni       

    Keki Daruwalla     

    Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar  

    Jerry Pinto       

    Atamjit Singh     

    Damodar Mauzo   

    Meena Alexander 

    Rubin D’Cruz    

    Megha Pansare   

    Sandesh Bhandare       

    Ajit Magdum  

    Vinu Abraham   

    Pramod Nigudkar   

    Arundhati Ghosh      

    Shanta Gokhale  

    Dalip Kaur Tiwana      

    Susie Tharu

    Reginald Massey

    Varavara Rao

    Shoma Chatterji


    Arundhathi Subramaniam


    Read more in ICF:

    RSS Activists Attack Malayalam Poet Kureepuzha Sreekumar

    Let Perumal Murugan the Writer Live Again!

    Appeal: Stop the Hounding of Writers on Social Media

    The Latest Victims of Cultural Terrorism: A Dalit Poet and a Dalit Scholar

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