Noted Dalit writer Pradnya Pawar and Dalit scholar Raosaheb Kasabe were reportedly forced to leave a Marathi literary meet over their "objectionable" comments on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The meet was organised at Patan in adjoining Satara district by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad and the alleged incident took place on Sunday when a mob asked the duo to leave the event for "hurting" the sentiments of the Maratha community with their remarks on the 17th century warrior king. Kasabe was invited as a special guest, while Pawar was nominated president of the two-day event which was dedicated to Dalit icon Babasaheb Ambedkar. "The first day (Saturday) of the meet was quite good as I and Kasabe delivered our speeches and received an overwhelming response from the attendees.
However, on the second day, when the event was underway, a mob of over 100 people came to the venue and asked us to leave.
"The organisers asked us to pack our bags and requested us to leave citing security reasons," Pawar said, adding that they left the venue immediately.
She wondered if their speeches were objectionable, why was there no immediate uproar. "We were told by the mob that we were Dalits and we should not speak anything (on Marathas). They warned us of dire consequences if we spoke further and asked us to leave," she said.
Pawar, the daughter of late Marathi author and poet Daya Pawar -- known for his rich contributions to Dalit literature -- described the incident as an act of "cultural terrorism and censorship on free speech".
When contacted, Kasabe said he tried to initiate a dialogue with those in the mob, but they were not in a mood to listen.
"I asked them who am I? Have you read my writing? Did you know what exactly I said yesterday? But, they were ignorant and were just demanding an apology," he said.
Kasabe said he even offered an apology to them if they were hurt due to their "ignorance".
He alleged that the mob was "sent" by local Shiv Sena MLA Shambhuraj Desai, who had a "political rivalry" with Vikramsinh Patankar of the NCP, one of the organisers of the literary meet.
When contacted, Desai told PTI, "After coming to know from those who attended the event and hearing the speeches of Kasabe and Pawar, where they made objectionable comments on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, I wrote a letter to the SP and the local administration, seeking action against those who had hurt the sentiments of the Maratha community."
He, however, denied any role in the mob's action.
Satara SP Sandip Patil said the police were probing the incident.
(REOPENS BOM 14) "I did not send anyone to disrupt the event and if the police check the video footage, things will become clear," Desai claimed. Patil said action will be taken against the guilty after verifying the video footage of the event.