Artistes' group backs Karnad over attack on Naipaul

Activist-artistes group SAHMAT on Monday came out in support of theatre personality Girish Karnad, who had called writer and Nobel laureate V S Naipaul “anti-Muslim”, in the just-concluded Mumbai Literature Festival.

SAHMAT (Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust), in a statement released here, said: “We stand by Girish Karnad, actor and playwright, and extend our solidarity in condemning the Lifetime Achievement Award to Naipaul by the organisers of the festival.”

Slamming Naipaul, Karnad created a controversy at the four-day literature festival which opened on October 31.

“Since the publication of his non-fiction book “India: A Wounded Civilisation”, Naipaul has, as Karnad rightly pointed out, never missed a chance to accuse them (Indian Muslims) of having savaged India for five centuries, brought, among other dreadful things, poverty into it, and destroyed glorious Indian culture,” the statement said.

“In questioning the conferment of the lifetime achievement award, Karnad is not questioning Naipaul’s position which is fairly well-known to most of us in India. He (Karnad) is in fact questioning the award. We take this opportunity to lend our voice to the questions raised by Karnad,” the statement said. Karnad had said: “When it comes to an Indian award given to an author of Indian descent in India, should not his irresponsible remarks (about Muslims) also be considered?”

Referring to the fall of the Vijayanagara empire, Karnad had said, “while history tells a totally different story, Naipaul has written in his book that Hampi pertained to vibrant Muslims destroying decadent Hindus, which is a generalisation and simplification of the events to fit into his thinking.”

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