Free Expression

No one can stifle me, says Malayalam writer assaulted for insulting God

The title of P Jimshar's collection 'Padachon' is a colloquial term for Allah.

When P Jimshar received threatening messages on his mobile phone recently from people he didn't know, he didn't realise just how serious they were.

But the young Malayalam writer and filmmaker understood that the warning was for real late on Sunday, when a group of men beat him up at bus stop in Kerala's Palakkad district in Kerala.

Jimshar has reasons to believe that the assailants were provoked by the title of his new book.

The 26-year-old’s collection of stories, Padachonte Chithra Pradarshanam (God’s Photo Exhibition), is set to be launched in Kochi on August 5. The title refers to one of the nine stories in the book.

Padachon is a colloquial term for Allah, and it is widely used by Muslims all over Kerala.

Jimshar had begun to receive messages after he announced the release of his book through social media. “How dare you write about Padachon?,” warned his callers. "We will teach you a lesson."

Movements were monitored

The writer believes that the attackers monitored his movements. “How else did they know that I was at Koonam Muchi bus stop, where I was waiting for a bus to return home, at 10.30 pm?” he asked.

There were three assailants. How dare you to write about Padachon?" they asked Jimshar.

Jimshar, who was discharged from hospital on Monday, said that they first broke his shoulder. "As I was writing in pain, one of them kicked on my spine," he said. "The powerful blow made me lose my balance. I fell down, but the assailants were unmoved. They continued assaulting me until I almost lost consciousness.”

Jimshar had risen to prominence after his debut novel Bhoopadathil Ninnum Kuzhichedutha Kurippukal was picked as one of the four winners in the DC Kizhakkemuri birth centennary novel competition in 2014. Padachonte Chithrapradarshanam is his second book.

He has also worked as an assistant director for two mainstream Malayalam movies: Ennu Ninte Moideen directed by RS Vimal and Oru Murai Vanthu Paarthaya directed by Sajan K Mathew.

Jimshar said that the people who are provoked by the title of the book should read the story carefully. “It is about a family who loses everything following a road development," he said. "Yes, there is a presence of God in the story, but only readers can feel it.”

Many names for God

The story was first published in 2014 in Shantham Magazine. “People use different names to pray to the God," he said. "I preferred Padachon in the title of my book, as the word so dear to me.”

Jimshar strongly believes that every writer has own creative space and no one should be allowed to infringe upon it. “No one can stifle me through physical assaults," he said. "If you want to counter me, do it through your works, and not by means of physical assaults.”

Describing the attack as a clear case of growing intolerance, the writer said those who attacked him should realise that Padachon belongs to one and all. “They should not make God as their private property," he said. "Everyone is entitled to have a fair share of it.”

As if to prove that he hasn't been cowed down, Jimshar is currently working on new novel, Akasham.

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