Then, Govind Pansare and others were attacked. We had never thought the situation would come to physical assault and murders. They harassed UR Ananthamurthy; he was handed over a ticket to Pakistan. We were undoubtedly afraid. This recent attack on Kalburgi was very shocking. I never saw him making public statements. He was doing his work. But they didn't allow him to live. They killed him. This was too much.
Ironically, the Hindi literature world has seldom taken any initiative for social change. It has always lacked a towering personality to take the lead. I am an ordinary person, but I wanted to get my message through.
Social activists and some other sections have also been at the receiving end. Many sections of society are facing this crisis. But writers, academicians, artists and journalists are more vulnerable. They have no defence or protection...
It started with AK Ramanujan, then James W Laine found himself in trouble for his biography of Shivaji. The situation continued to deteriorate. Arundhati Roy had to withdraw her book. Wendy's book met with a similar fate. My book, The Girl With the Golden Parasol, was also pulped. (NB: Get a free download here). Now, they have stooped to physical violence, as happened in the case of Ananthamurthy. You are well aware what happened to Ashis Nandy in Jaipur.
The fear was always there in my mind, but the frequency of these attacks has increased now. There were three sensational murders in succession. We know what has been happening in Bangladesh. Sabeen Mehmud in Pakistan was also killed.
A friend suggested that I should return the award. We were just discussing that Kalburgi was also awarded by the Sahitya Akademi, as was UR Ananthamurthy. How surprising is it that the institution which gives this prestigious award to the writers disowns them soon after the ceremony? The Sahitya Akademi has no role or responsibility for the life and works of the writers they honour. I realised that this was true - not even a two-line statement was issued. There were no condolences, no tributes.
Why only the Sahitya Akademi, the ministry of culture, which provides budget to the Akademy, as well the Department of Education should also have condemned the killing. After all, Kalburgi was a former Vice-Chancellor of Hampi University. The Sahitya Akademi didn't even issue a two-line statement in tribute when Kalburgi was killed. Every minister, including Smriti Irani, should have spoken out against it. They could have gained political mileage out of it, even the Congress which is ruling Karnataka did not speak out. Nobody is safe amidst the increasing criminalisation of our society. Be it me, you or anyone who wants to speak out.
The Hindi-speaking region has always yielded to subjugation. The same is true about its literature. The Dalit movement originated in the south, as did the Bhakti movement. Give me one name, barring a few exceptions like JP (Jayaprakash Narayan) and (Ram Manohar) Lohia, who have come from the Hindi belt and made an impact. Don't expect anything from Hindi writers. They worship the likes of Asaram Bapu and Radhe Maa
Many Leftist intellectuals have switched sides. Several others are benefitting from the system. In the next few days, you will see that many more change their positions and stands. This is opportunism. They either maintain a silence when somebody takes a stand, or they create controversy. This is happening at a time when, if you speak the truth, the whole world watches.
I never imagined that this death anniversary would be given a political colour. Neither the Left, nor the Right should think that India's demography is completely polarised along political lines. It would be foolish to judge a person on the basis of family functions he attends. Even now, Brahminical fanatics tend to presume the same. They have a problem with your every move. If you eat a perticular vegetable, they would declare you socialist. For another vegetable on your plate, they will call you capitalist, and so on.
Those who have trolled me either belong to the Congress or the BJP. Most of them are body-builder like figures who ride a bike, and have gods and goddesses on their walls. I don't consider this section as religious or 'Hindu'. They are just fanatical, misguided, lumpen and criminal elements. Rightist forces exploit these people to attack persons like Kalburgi and Ananthamurthy.
You see the same thing happening in Germany and Spain. The corporate mafia is in cahoots with some segments of the literary world. The loot is on, the attacks are on. Where and how will the writers survive?