Pune: After apologising to renowned English writer Nayantara Sehgal for withdrawing her invite to inaugurate the 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (Marathi literary event), the organisers have now invited the wife of a farmer who committed suicide to inaugurate the event.
While writers applauded the decision that shows concern towards farmers, they also maintained it does not justify the mistreatment given to Nayantara Sehgal.
“It is a great step to bestow the honour of inaugurating the festival on a hardworking farmer’s wife, especially when the festival is being held in a district like Yavatmal which has one of the highest number of farmers’ suicides. Something like this should have been done earlier, and should be continued in future. Literature and pain have a connection that goes back long, and this will certainly underline it,” writer Shripal Sabnees said.
However, he added, “This cannot justify the treatment given to Sehgal by the organisers. It was not just an insult to her, but also to the freedom of expression.”
Former MLA Ulhas Pawar, who is also the Executive Trustee of the Sammelan said, “After all the chaos they have created, why are the organisers not opening the event by reading Sehgal’s speech, when they have it? It is a humble thing to bring in the wife of a farmer who has committed suicide to inaugurate the event, but why not also honour Sehgal by reading out her speech? If they are really apologetic and have nothing to hide, they should do it.”
Writer Sadanand More congratulated the organsers and said this will draw the attention of literary scholars and writers towards farmers’ issues, which are reflected enough presently.
The organisers received flak from the literary community after they withdrew the invite from Sehgal, falling prey to political pressure groups. It was also said that it was Sehgal’s politically ‘incorrect’ speech had led to this decision.