A magazine of the International Film Festival of India in Goa has landed in controversy after it decided not to print a poem on caste discrimination written by Goan writer and former Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Vishnu Surya Wagh.

The Sunday edition of the magazine, called The Peacock, was to carry the poem, titled “Secular”, along with a two-page illustration of Wagh by artist Siddhesh Gautam. The poem is part of Wagh’s poetry collection titled “Sudhirsukta”.

“Waugh’s poem ‘Secular’ [was one that I] I carefully chose because it expresses so many incidents of caste discrimination by many on a daily basis in both urban and rural areas,” Gautam said in a post shared on Instagram. “I myself have gone through something similar many times in my life not just as an unknown student but also as a well-known artist.”

Gautam posted his illustration on the social media platform along with a translation of the poem, saying he had nothing to lose.

“I have made my way bearing such blows on my soul many times and without any social, emotional and financial capital,” he said. “And, I will continue to make my way with my hard work and hard words.”

Wagh’s nephew, Kaustubh Naik, said that The Peacock team had asked him to translate the poem, reported The Indian Express.

“They wanted me to vet some poems,” he told the newspaper. “I asked them if they had any specific poem in mind and was asked to translate this particular one.” However, on Saturday, Naik was informed by the Entertainment Society of Goa officials that the poem would not be printed, reported The Indian Express.

“The poem was not published while the illustration was carried,” he said.

However, the Entertainment Society of Goa, the nodal agency that organises the film festival on behalf of the Goa government, said the decision not to include the poem was taken for creative reasons, reported The Indian Express.

“The decision to not print the article was an editorial call taken purely for creative reasons and had nothing to do with the content of the article,” Entertainment Society of Goa’s Chief Executive Officer Ankita Mishra told the newspaper. “[The] Peacock has been a flagbearer for artistic freedom since its inception, and it is our endeavour that it continues to be so.”

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