Chennai: Describing it as “shocking and serious blow’’ to the freedom of expression, eminent writers and academicians have condemned alleged blackmail and harassment of Perumal Murugan, an influential Tamil writer.’
In a statement, under the banner of Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust, they alleged that harassment and bullying of Perumal Murugan, at the peak of his creative powers, was done in collusion with the police and the state administration of Tamil Nadu and it pained the Tamil writer so much that he announced giving up of his writing altogether.
“Perumal Murugan’s sensitive and distinctive novel, “Madhorubagan,” was published as far back as 2010 in Tamil and has run into many editions. An English translation of the book was published in 2013 under the title “One Part Woman” and also went into more than one edition. As if on cue to an orchestrated campaign, the work has, over the last few weeks, suddenly come under attack for allegedly being offensive to the local dominant caste of Tiruchengode (near Erode in Tamil Nadu), where the story is set some time in the early part of the 20th century,’’ the statement said.
They alleged that the “motivated retrospective and retroactive literary witch hunt and inquisition of the novelist’’ has been abetted by the police and the district administration in the form of a so-called ‘peace meeting’ to which Perumal Murugan was summoned on January 12.
“All that the police could or would do to protect Perumal Murugan was to advise him to stay away from Tiruchengode for his own safety. The author is now in effective exile from his home, where he and his wife lived and worked, and has been reduced to pleading with his publishers not to sell or reprint any of his books and promising to compensate the loss they incurred on account of this,’’ a statement said.
The writers, historians, intellectuals and artists called upon the Tamil Nadu government to protect Perumal Murugan and his constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression and his creative integrity from such extra-constitutional cultural censors. “Can we allow a set of unidentified rabid and fascistic forces to kill the soul of a writer thus? We call upon artists, writers, intellectuals, readers and the concerned public at large to rise to the defence of democracy imperilled by this unwarranted and vile abrogation of an author’s right to write,’’ it said.