Sahitya Sammelana: Sparks fly over intolerance remark

Sahitya Sammelana: Sparks fly over intolerance remark

A session on ‘Rationality and Intolerance’ on Saturday, the second day of the 84th Akhila Bharatha Sahitya Sammelana on University of Agriculture Sciences campus here, witnessed some tense moments as a group in the audience disrupted actor Malavika Avinash when she was presenting a paper on ‘Governance and Intolerance’. The police had to intervene to calm down those trying to disrupt the session.

Trouble started when Malavika, also a BJP spokesperson, started quoting Bhagavad Gita and other epics to support her argument that India has been most tolerant country in the world since ages, despite invasions by foreigners and their efforts to impose their culture on the country. Referring to the post-Independence era, she said there have been incidents of atrocities and assaults on different class of people and questioned why the allegations of ‘intolerance’ cropped up only after the BJP-led NDA government came to power at the Centre.

When she mentioned about the Sabarimala row, a group of about ten people among the audience stood up and demanded that she should not politicise the issue. Malavika referred to killings of RSS workers in Karnataka during the Congress rule and asked why there is no allegation of intolerance when these workers were murdered in broad daylight and what the government did to deliver justice to the families of the victims.

Agitated by these remarks, the group started shouting against Malavika. Repeated appeals to calm down and listen to what she has to say and debate the issue later failed as the group continued to shout. Irked, Malavika said she will stop her speech as a mark of protest against the ‘intolerance’ shown by the group and went back to her seat.

Most of the audience condemned the group’s behaviour and urged Malavika to present her views. They urged the police to throw out the youths who were trying to disrupt the session. Malavika continued her speech but diluted the topic by referring to Kannada as a medium of instruction at primary schools. All this resulted in the disruption of the session for about 15 minutes.

Malavika earlier said secularism and tolerance are in the DNA of Indians and of late, some people who claim to be intellectuals and secularists, are misguiding the society by charging that intolerance has increased after the BJP-led government came to power.

Giving some facts, Malavika said that why there was no charge of intolerance when 3,000 Sikhs were massacred or when Hindu activists were killed in the state.

Former DGP DV Guruprasad, who spoke on ‘Rational Literature and Law’, deliberated on freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution and said the right comes with some conditions to be followed. Violation of the conditions will draw penal action under the law, he
said. Several sections of the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code allow the courts and the government to punish those who try to misuse the rights and cause harm to the society and country in the guise of presenting rational views, he said.

Writer Banu Mushtaq and Justice Nagmohandas, who were to participate in the session, did not
turn up.