The organisers of a literary meet in Maharashtra on Sunday withdrew their invitation to author Nayantara Sahgal to inaugurate the event after a political outfit allegedly threatened to disrupt the event, PTI reported.
Organisers of the All India Marathi Meet said the decision was taken to “avoid any untoward incident and in view of the controversy that has cropped up against her name” after the outfit threatened to disturb the function.
In October 2015, Sahgal had given back her Sahitya Akademi award, which she had won for her novel Rich Like Us in 1986. She had returned the award as a protest against the increasing intolerance in the country, attacks on the right to dissent in India and the Sahitya Akademi’s silence over attacks on writers and rationalists in the country.
Sahgal was to inaugurate the 92nd literary meeting on January 11 in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, with acclaimed Marathi author Aruna Dhere to preside over the event.
Ramakant Kolte, working president of the literary meet reception committee, said the organisers took cognisance of the threat. “Nayantara Sahgal’s name was proposed by the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal chief Shreepad Joshi of Nagpur, which was accepted by the organisers,” Kolte said in a statement. “A follow-up was taken by sending her a formal invitation.”
“We have sent her a letter cancelling the invitation,” Kolte said, adding that a new name to inaugurate the function is yet to be finalised.
Sahgal, 91, expressed surprise over the withdrawal and said no reason was mentioned in the letter received on Sunday. “In fact, the organisers had sent me a very warm invitation and arranged for my stay and travel,” she told the Mumbai Mirror. “There must be some pressure on them, hence they cancelled my invitation.”
Sahgal said returning the Sahitya Akademi Award had not let to the cancellation of the invitation as the organisers already knew her views. “They knew my reputation very well and my writings too,” she said. “They had extended the invitation knowing these things.”
Meanwhile, the Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal said that the decision to revoke the invite was taken by organisers at the local level. “There were newspaper reports about objections and [likely] protests to Sahgal inaugurating the event,” it said in a statement. “It was being said that some people would not let the literary meet function.”