Two Dalit scholars were forced to leave a Marathi literary meet in Maharashtra’s Satara district after a mob alleged that they had made “objectionable” statements about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, PTI reported. Pradnya Pawar (pictured above) and Raosaheb Kasabe were accused of hurting sentiments of the Maratha community. The two-day event was organised by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad on Saturday and Sunday.

Pawar said, “The first day [Saturday] of the meet was quite good as I and Kasabe delivered our speeches and received an overwhelming response from the attendees. However, on the second day, when the event was underway, a mob of over 100 people came to the venue and asked us to leave.” She said the organisers also requested them to leave the venue citing security reasons.

The noted writer said the group of around 100 men told them that they were Dalits, and hence they should not speak about the Marathas. “They warned us of dire consequences if we spoke further and asked us to leave,” she said, adding that the incident was a clear instance of “cultural terrorism and censorship on free speech”.

Kasabe said he tried to talk to the men, but they refused to listen to anything. He said, “I asked them who am I? Have you read my writing? Did you know what exactly I said yesterday? But, they were ignorant and were just demanding an apology.” According to him, the men belonged to the local unit of the Shiv Sena. He said the men were sent by Shiv Sena legislator Shambhuraj Desai, who had a “political rivalry” with Vikramsinh Patankar of the National Congress Party, who was one of the organisers.

Desai, however, denied any involvement in the incident. He said, “After coming to know from those who attended the event and hearing the speeches of Kasabe and Pawar, where they made objectionable comments on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, I wrote a letter to the SP and the local administration, seeking action against those who had hurt the sentiments of the Maratha community.” The local administration has ordered a probe into the incident.