Dharwad Lit Fest Turns Sour After Vandalism by BJP Yuva Morcha
Image for representational use only; Image Courtesy : The Hindu
The second day of the Dharwad Sahitya Sambrama ended up in a bedlam when a group of people disrupted scholar Shiv Visvanathan’s lecture. During the annual conference in Dharwad, Visvanathan was addressing the session ‘Nationalism: Altercations in Contemporary Situation’.
Referring to himself as an “anti-national”, Visvanathan pointed out that the country is obsessed with the nation-state. He objected to the idea of “nationalism”, and asserted that there is an immense need to revisit the larger idea of nationalism that can be equated with civilisational character. “There is a need to develop the practice of asking questions in a democratic manner,” added the speaker.
Controversy ensued when Visvanathan referred to the incidents of rapes in Manipur and in other states allegedly by the Army personnel, and as he raised the question of Kashmir. Before he could conclude the lecture, a group of people interrupted his speech, and started yelling at him loudly, which was followed by an attack, as can be seen in the video.
Renowned linguist and one of the founding members of Dakshinayan, G N Devy, who was also present at the event, concluded the session by saying, “We thank Visvanathan for sharing his perspective with us. It is a question of ideas and ideas need to be liberated with other ideas.”
The 3rd day of the seminar yet again witnessed another protest when a group of students from the BJP Yuva Morcha barged into the hall and disrupted the ongoing proceedings, demanding an apology from Visvanathan. Even though the organisers informed them that he had left Dharward that morning, the protesters refused to recede. Instead, they demanded an apology from the organisers of the event for Visvanathan’s speech.
A parallel protest was also called for by a group of retired army personnel, who gathered outside the venue, and threatened to take legal action against Visvanathan.
Speaking to Indian Cultural Forum, and responding to the questions about the growing intolerance in the state, Devy said, “Dharwad is the land of Kalburgi. He was murdered for his thoughts. Dharwad, in the recent years, has witnessed strong reaction to such thoughts. It is a place which was known for its literature and music in the past, but in the present, its complexion has changed.”
Every year, the Dharwad Sahitya Sambrama invites eminent personalities from across the country. However, this is the first time that the event had to witness vandalism during a session. Basavaraj Sulibhavi of Ladai Prakashana, Karnataka, told the Indian Cultural Forum, “It’s surprising how some men were able to enter during one of the sessions and disrupt the lecture. None of the attackers had a name tag with them like everyone else did. Instead of filing a complaint, the organisers tried to diffuse the situation by tending an apology."
Even though the session was interrupted, there were many in the audience who were in agreement with Visvanathan’s speech. “Such solidarity proves that the present regime is losing its hold,” Devy concluded.
Courtesy: Indian Cultural Forum
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.