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Threats to Malayalam novelist S. Hareesh: Sahitya Akademi to move Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Saket Suman

New Delhi, Aug 1: Breaking its silence over repeated threats to Malayalam novelist S. Hareesh, Sahitya Akademi President Chandrashekhar Kambar, speaking to IANS, condemned the threats that the novelist received from some right wing outfits, promising that as the President of Indias National Academy of Letters, he will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and draw his attention to the “pressures and attacks” writers like Hareesh are facing.
“This is very very unfortunate. I want to send out one message very clearly that the Sahitya Akademi is an institution of the writers, by the writers and for the writers, and we condemn all attacks and pressures that writers face,” Kambar, a recipient of the Jnanpith Award, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Padma Shri told IANS over telephone from Bangalore. The publisher, DC Books, was also firm that the controversial novel “Meesha” would be available at bookstores across Kerala.

Kambar said that freedom of speech was “pivotal to the functioning of any democracy” and the Akademi condemned any act of violence, intimidation or threats not only to writers in India but anywhere in the world. The 81-year-old agreed that writers and artists were easy targets of fundamental outfits and that there was a rise in vitriol against them in recent times.

The novel was being serialised by Mathrubhumi Weekly before being withdrawn by the author after threats. Hareesh, a recipient of Kerala Sahitya Akademi award, had said that it all started after suspected right-wing activists posted on his Facebook page that the novel was an “insult” to Hinduism. He also told a Malayalam TV channel that he was “too weak” to take on the people as threats had started to come against him and his family and he withdrew it from further serialisation. Fearing more onslaughts, Hareesh has also closed down his Facebook account. The writer has been in a state of shock and is currently not commenting on the issue. The entire fiasco is also a deja vu of the episode surrounding Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, who was hounded by right wing fundamentalists for “One Part Woman” — for an almost similar sequence — and things returned to normal after Murugan “declared his death” as a writer. (IANS)