Two right-wing activists – believed to be Sambhaji Brigade workers – threw ink at senior journalist and author Girish Kuber on the last day of the Marathi Literary Conference in Nashik in northern Maharashtra on Sunday to protest the controversial parts from his latest book.
The two suspected militants of the Sambhaji Brigade carried out an ink attack on Kuber, who is the editor-in-chief of the main Marathi newspaper “Loksatta”, as they were upset by some controversial references made to Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, the son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, in his latest book – “The State of Rebirth: The Unwritten Story of the Creation of Maharashtra”.
The incident took place when Kuber arrived at the 94th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan on the last day of the literary conference. As he stood at the back of the stage, two disbelievers approached him and threw ink at him which fell on his face, hair and shirt. Some of the ink fell on the police present on the spot.
Police arrested two suspected disbelievers – identified as Satish Kale and Rajesh Bundale – who carried out an ink attack on Kuber. The police rushed Kuber to a safer location immediately afterwards. Police stepped up their security after the incident.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar and top BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis condemned the attack on the senior journalist.
Shard Pawar, who was present at the literary meeting earlier today, said the attack on a writer to protest his work amounted to an attack on the principle of free speech. “I condemn this incident which does not correspond to the image of Maharashtra,” he said, adding that he had read Girish Kuber’s book, “he said.
“There is controversy over parts of Girish Kuber’s latest book. But Girish Kuber has the right to speak out. Those who do not agree with his views also have the right to oppose him, but such an attack is not acceptable, ”said Pawar.
Fadnavis, who is currently the opposition leader in the Maharashtra Assembly, said anything written against Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj should be condemned, but resort to an ink attack during a literary encounter is not correct. If there is something wrong with the facts, it should be countered with facts and evidence, ”he said. For its part, the Sambhaji Brigade criticized some controversial parts of Kuber’s book.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Press Club has strongly condemned the inkjet act on senior journalist Girish Kuber, apparently because of the controversial sections of his recent book. “We believe that physical confrontation should not be part of a civilized battle of ideas which should be expressed through persuasion, reasoned argument and decent debate,” the club said in its statement.
“However, an unequivocal condemnation of the unruly act should not prevent someone from firmly opposing the content and intent of the book. We note that there is reasonable criticism of Kuber’s interpretation and presentation of Maharashtra history, ”the Mumbai Press Club said in its statement.
“Kuber’s book has been criticized for its glaring errors of commission and omission. Arguably this works on the slippery slope of writing an exclusive and distorted version of history, which ultimately turns out to be counterproductive in nurturing a society conducive to democratic and reasoned debate, ”said the Press Club Mumbai press release.
“Acknowledging that the historical figure of Sambhaji Maharaj has been subjected to distorted perceptions to expand a particular cultural agenda is not antithetical to strong opposition to the means adopted to counter such distortions,” added the Sambaji.