Two right-wing activists – believed to be workers of Sambhaji Brigade – hurled ink at Senior journalist and author Girish Kuber on the last day of the Marathi literary conference at Nashik in north Maharashtra on Sunday in protest against controversial portions in his latest book.
The two suspected Sambhaji Brigade activists indulged in an ink attack against Kuber, who is the Editor of leading Marathi newspaper “Loksatta”, as they were upset with some controversial references made to Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, the son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, in his latest book - “Renaissance State: The Unwritten Story of the Making of Maharashtra”.
The incident took place when Kuber arrived at the 94th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan venue on the last day of the literary conference. As he stood on the rear side of the stage, two miscreants walked up to him and threw ink at him that fell on his face, hair, and shirt. Some of the ink fell on police personnel present at the spot.
The police took into two alleged miscreants – identified as Satish Kale and Rajesh Bundale – who indulged in ink attack against Kuber. The police rushed Kuber to a safer place immediately thereafter. The police have intensified their security after this incident.
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis have condemned the attack on the senior journalist.
Shard Pawar, who was present art the literary meet earlier today, said the attack on a writer in protest against his work was akin to the attack on the principle of the freedom of expression. “I condemn this incident which doesn't suit the image of Maharashtra,” he said, adding that he has read Girish Kuber's book,” he said
“There is controversy over some portions of Girish Kuber’s latest book. But Girish Kuber has the right to express himself. Those who disagree with his views also have the right to oppose him but such attack is not acceptable,” Pawar said.
Fadnavis, who is currently the leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, said that anything written against Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj should be condemned but resorting to an ink attack during a literary meet is not right. If there’s something factually wrong, it should be countered with facts and evidence,” he said. On its part, Sambhaji Brigade has criticised certain controversial portions of Kuber's book.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Press Club has strongly condemned the act of ink-throwing on senior journalist Girish Kuber, reportedly over the controversial sections of his recent book. “We believe that physical confrontation must not be a part of any civilised battle of ideas which must find expression through persuasion, reasoned arguments, and decent debate,” the club said in its statement.
“However, an unequivocal condemnation of the unruly act must not deter one from steadfastly taking an issue with the book's content and intent. We note that there is a reasonable critique of the interpretation and presentation of the history of Maharashtra offered by Kuber,” the Mumbai Press Club said in its statement.
“Kuber’s book has been called out for its glaring errors of commission and omissions. It arguably treads the slippery slope of writing an exclusionary and distorted version of history, which ultimately proves counterproductive to nurture a society conducive to democratic and reasoned debate,” the Press Club Mumbai statement said.
“Acknowledgement that the historical figure of Sambhaji Maharaj has been subjected to distorted perceptions to extend a particular cultural agenda is not antithetical to a firm opposition to the means adopted to counter such distortions,” the Sambaji added.