Muslim Writers Excluded from Kannada Sahitya Sammelana, Allege Eminent Writers, Scholars

Some senior writers have said that the state has hundreds of Muslim Kannada writers, however, only a few have been considered for the event.

New Delhi: A section of Kannada writers have alleged that the Kannada Sahitya Sammelana in Karnataka’s Haveri has ignored Muslim writers and poets, the New Indian Express reported.

When the Kannada Sahitya Parishat announced the names of writers and poets who are taking part in the sammelana, some writers objected to the exclusion of Muslim writers from the list. They told the newspaper in December that the state has hundreds of Muslim Kannada writers, however, only a few have been considered for the sammelana.

Therefore, some senior Kannada writers told the daily they’re planning to organise an alternative literary festival, Jana Sahitya Sammelana, on January 8 at the Alumni Hall in Bengaluru’s K.R. Circle, in protest against the exclusion of Muslim writers.

However, an organising committee member told the daily: “There are six Muslim writers and poets who are part of the Haveri Sammelana. It has become a routine for some people to create controversy during the mega Kannada event.”

The three-day Sahitya Sammelana began on January 6, Friday, in Haveri, the home district of chief minister Basavaraj Bommai.

The Sammelana is funded by the Karnataka government and its activities, including the literary meet, are supported with taxpayer money, the News Minute reported.

According to the Hindu, some writers have alleged that the selection process has excluded even women writers, and Muslims, from key sessions. They have withdrawn from participating in the event as a mark of dissent.

The newspaper reported that H.R. Sujatha, who was supposed to chair one of the poetry meets at the sammelana, announced that she would not participate. In her letter, she said that she could see “deliberate exclusion of Muslim writers on the panels”.

She made the announcement soon after the schedule of various literary sessions was published, the daily said.

Chand Pasha N.S., who was among the few Muslim writers on the panels, also announced his decision to boycott the event, the report said.

He said the parishat was discriminating against writers based on religion, caste, and gender that too in Haveri, known as the land of Shishunala Sharif and Kanakadasa.

Another poet Ramesh Aroli, too, decided to stay away from the sammelana, the daily reported.

Kannada scholar and professor, Purushottama Bilimale, wrote on Facebook that the exclusion of Muslim writers from the event is not an accident, but rather a reflection of the way in which certain writers have historically been excluded from literary conferences in the region, TNM reported. He also published a list of notable Muslim writers in Kannada literature and called for their inclusion at the event.