Manglesh Dabral (poet), Prof. Chaman Lal (writer), Shripraksah (film maker), Atmajit Singh (writer), Tapan Bose (film maker), Satya Rai Nagpaul (film maker), Rehman Abbas (writer) shared their views and reflections on rising intolerance and the reasons to start their fight for the same.
According to a release by National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Medha Patkar recalled the importance of December 6th, the birth anniversary of Babsahab Ambedkar as well as the day of Babari Masjid demolition. Introducing the programme, she pointed out the issues of socio-political climate change that can only be addressed if communities can assert their rights.
The climate of intolerance that writers and intellectuals have protested against is also felt by the youth in villages and cities where the infiltration of right wing groups that has been increasing and the need for drawing connections towards a new movement which can bring together different struggles in the country.
Writers, filmmakers, artists were felicitated by representatives of people’s movements and also spoke about what made them return their awards, many of them were meeting each other for the first time.
Mangles Dabral asserted that “this was not a manufactured revolt; he could see that the people in the country are not happy and are living in times of crisis where the current government is supporting corporate with suppression of people’s voices by spreading communalism – in such a case it was essential for me to speak out.”
Sriprakash said that, “He decided to return his award as he saw the way the FTII student’s struggle was ignored and pushed against the wall. The protest also showed the need to resist saffronization.”
Rehman Abbas spoke about how Urdu poetry has always been about love, not hate. Intolerance is not connected in today’s time to any one religion or community. “My book has faced the intolerance of my own community and being continuously threatened by fundamentalist forces, this is not new to us. We have faced 1992 blast in Bombay and 2002 riot in Gujarat. This is not happening for the first time in both India and Pakistan. Religious fundamentalism is same in both places.”
Atamjit Singh said that it has been worse for the Sikh community as now they are being asked about where they will go, as India and Pakistan, both are taking strong stand for prevailing fundamentalist forces?
“Seeing what is happening around me, I asked myself, after writing so many plays, is my voice irrelevant? The highest numbers of people, who have given back the award, are from Punjab. This is because we have seen 1984.”
As he said, how can an independent and autonomous body not respond when writers are getting killed
“Our PM also, will not talk about tolerance in India; he will only do it outside the country!” said Singh.
Tapan Bose, filmmaker who has made many influential documentaries on social tragedies like, onBhopal Gas Tragedy and Bhagalpur blindings observed that religious fanaticism is now replaced by blind nationalism.
The convention heard the reality on ground by people from different parts of India sharing the plight of people of Narmada Bachao Andolan from Madhya Pradesh; issues arising in Kandhamal, Odisha; supporters of farmer’s and labour’s issues in Bihar, survivors of Muzaffarnagar riot in Uttar Pradesh; people of Worker’s Union sharing the deluge of Chennai, Tamil Nadu; leaders fighting against land grab in the name of industrial corridor and development from Rajasthan and Gujarat; people witnessing farmer’s suicide in Punjab and Maharashtra, killing of Dalit’s in Haryana etc.