Marathi Literary Meet Withdraws Invite to Nayantara Sahgal After Threats of Disruption

The decision was taken to "avoid any untoward incident and in view of the controversy that has cropped up against her name", organisers said.

New Delhi: Organisers of the All India Marathi Literary Meet have withdrawn the invitation extended to noted English-language author Nayantara Sahgal after some people threatened to disrupt the function.

The decision was taken to “avoid any untoward incident and in view of the controversy that has cropped up against her name”, after a political outfit threatened to disrupt the function, the organisers said Sunday.

Sahgal (91) returned her Sahitya Akademi award – which she received in 1986 for her novel Rich Like Us – in October 2015. The author said she was surprised at the organisers’ decision to rescind her invitation, and that no explanation was provided in the letter she received. “In fact, the organisers had sent me a very warm invitation and arranged for my stay and travel,” she told Mumbai Mirror. “There must be some pressure on them, hence they cancelled my invitation.”

She and others returned awards they had won from government bodies to protest the “growing intolerance” in the country and silence from institutions like the Sahitya Akademi.

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Sahgal was to inaugurate the 92nd literary meet on January 11 in the presence of Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Noted Marathi author Aruna Dhere will preside over the event.

In a press release issued Sunday, working president of the literary meet reception committee Ramakant Kolte said the organisers have taken cognisance of the threat given by a political outfit.

“Nayantara Sahgal’s name was proposed by the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal chief Shreepad Joshi of Nagpur which was accepted by the organisers. A follow-up was taken by sending her a formal invitation,” it stated.

The release stated the organisers have decided to revoke Sahgal’s invitation, “as a controversy has cropped up against her name and to avoid any untoward incident from those who threatened to derail the literary meet”.

“We have sent her a letter cancelling the invitation,” Kolte said, adding that the new name for the inauguration function is yet to be finalised.

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Meanwhile, the Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal (ABMSM) said in a statement in Nagpur that the decision to withdraw the invite was taken by the local level organisers.

“There were newspaper reports about objections and (likely) protests to Nayantara Sahgal inaugurating the event. It was being said that some people would not let the literary meet function. Hence, to avoid any obstruction and untoward incident, the organising committee at the local level decided to send a withdrawal letter to Sahgal.

“This is not the directive of the Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal. It is the local organising committee which has taken the decision,” it stated.

(With PTI inputs)