New Delhi: Several prominent Hindi literati and writers have criticized the targeting of author Geetanjali Shree nee Pandey in filing an FIR against her in Uttar Pradesh, calling it another “despicable” moment of great alarm and shame. Shree brought laurels to Indian literature when the English translation of his work, Ret Samadhi (sand tomb), became the first Hindi-language novel to win the prestigious International Booker Prize this year.
An FIR has been filed against Geetanjali Shree following a Hathras resident’s complaint that his book Ret Samadhi hurt Hindu feelings.
However, Hindi writers who have known Shree for years and read his works believe that this is just very low level politics. They also point out that after she was acclaimed by the international community, no one in the government intervened to congratulate her. Instead, she was unreasonably targeted on social media as several fundamentalists attacked her for having done her graduate studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
“Instead of being praised by the state, Shree was unfairly targeted”
As well-known Hindi poet and writer Bharat Tiwari said, “As for Geetanjali Shree, we have seen that since she was awarded the Booker and became the first Hindi author to get one, neither the Prime Minister nor the leader of the UP. Minister congratulated her. In fact, on social media we saw a lot of hate against her – she was described as part of the “JNU gang”.
“Everyone knows the inclination of the state. They would have been looking for an opportunity, looking for something in his work to target it and create controversy,” he said, referring to the FIR recording, which led to the canceled a congratulatory program that she was invited to Agra.
“Those who do not follow the idea of state tradition become anti-national”
“These are times when people’s feelings get hurt very easily. It’s tragic. We have two traditions – one is our Hindustani tradition and the other is what the powers that be today regard as the ‘true tradition’. So anyone who does not do so within what the state considers ‘true tradition and culture’ is branded as anti-national,” Tiwari added.
The writer-poet said, “It is very unfortunate that such a great prize was considered a watershed moment in Hindi literature, we are losing it in petty politics. This is a time when we can get off to a good start and take Hindi to a different level, but we are moving in a different direction.
“Despicable and a matter of collective concern for all writers”
Journalist and author Mrinal Pande said it was shocking that a small dot was used to target Shree. “I am really surprised by this because I am a long time admirer of Geetanjali Shree’s writings and he is a brilliant person and one of the best writers in Hindi and other languages. I am shocked beyond words that someone would come back to a point like this and make a big deal out of it. She deserves all the praise and respect she has not only in India but also abroad,” he said. she declared.
Emphasizing that “Geetanjali has always kept her head low on the radar – she is not one of those people who stood up and presented herself as chest-pounding radicals”, Pande insisted that the writer award-winning has “always been far from most of these literary backs that create controversy”.
The former editor of the Hindi daily Hindustan said: “I am truly surprised that someone so soft and self-effacing would be subjected to this and it is a matter of collective concern for all writers of all languages. I hope they fix this as soon as possible as she is one of the most important voices in Hindi literature.
Regarding the impact on Hindi literature of such a move, she said, “I wouldn’t really make the connection because it sounds more like something directed at a particular writer. So I would stay focused where it should be – on her personally as a writer. I think she is brilliant and deserves all the support and praise she gets and more.
Pande, who is also a well-known TV personality, called the action against Geetanjali “despicable”. “I think such things are not only despicable, they are also alarming because there are in all eras, or in all literature, very few really good writers and she is one of them. That she is subjected to this is a matter of great concern and shame,” she said.
“Illiterate people, ignorant of literary expressions make such complaints”
Writer and former editor of JansattaOm Thanvi said: “Unfortunately, many people in our country are illiterate, which means that they are not illiterate or did not go to school, but despite having acquired an education, they remain ignorant of or lack an understanding of the various modes of expression, literature and various arts.
“What Nupur Sharma or Yati Narsinghanand say may be political in nature, but what is said in the literature cannot be taken at face value. It’s usually a manner of speaking,” he said. “I read Geetanjali Shree’s award-winning book and found nothing objectionable or controversial in it.”
“Not in Geetanjali’s nature to write anything controversial, provocative”
Additionally, he said, “When I was editor of Jansatta, the Hindi daily newspaper of the Indian Express group, she regularly wrote articles for us. It was not in his nature to write anything controversial or provocative. I never found her to think very hard about political, community or religious issues. So whoever complained about her obviously doesn’t understand literature.
Stating that he was sure there would be no cause to take cognizance of the complaint, Thanvi said that “the award-winning novel is about society, old people and family relationships, it is in no way religious”.
Thanvi said it was really unfortunate that some people also attacked Shree on social media. “She is a writer who believes in working in silence. She may have her sympathy towards activism and her thinking may be progressive, but she has never used literature as a tool for activism or to promote her ideology. At least, I have never encountered such a case in the more than 30 years that I have known her.
“The action against the author shows that communitarianism is on the rise”
The government failed to congratulate Geetanjali when she was shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize, he said, that should have been cause for celebration, but the Prime Minister failed to congratulate her and her staff n Nor did I find it necessary to issue words of appreciation for her.
“And then, when Indian society respects her work, invites her, congratulates her, she tries to counteract that too. It just goes to show how narrow-mindedness and communalism are spreading,” he said.