At least 350 historians, intellectuals, scientists and artistes gathered in New Delhi’s Constitution Club of India on Sunday in an event – ‘Pratirodh’ – to condemn the rising violence and intolerance in the country
“It is a much bigger, deeper attack and this is not just an attack on history, on literature. It’s an attack on the intellectuals. We are going through a period of anti-intellectualism,” said noted historian Romila Thapar.
“But our protest is being referred to as ‘manufactured rebellion’. The protest is being registered all over the country and by various sections of the society. We are demanding that the crisis and mayhem should be brought to an end,” she added.
Thapar also said that although there have been attacks on writers in the past as well, there has been a striking increase in the number of such incidents in the past one year.
“The essential quality of governance has declined. The fringe elements are calling the shots now. It is no longer only a law and order problem. They have succeeded in creating an atmosphere of fear, violence and acute disharmony,” Thapar said while addressing the event.
Other noted personalities such as actor M.K. Raina, writer Krishna Sobti, poet Ashok Vajpeyi and academic Zoya Hassan also spoke at the event and presented their views on the rising cases of violence in the country.
Historian Irfan Habib, who also spoke at the event, pointed to the rising intolerance and said whenever fascist powers rise, they spread a false history in the society.
Habib said, “There is not much difference between the RSS and ISIS as far their wisdom is concerned.”
Activist Teesta Setalvad, who also spoke at the event, said the participation of different sections of the society made the movement altogether more strong and significant.
“We are at a very interesting juncture, crossroads of a sort. The protests have come from a vast body of Indians from different disciplines like the sciences, literature, history and cinema… these protests signify a reassertion of the right to a multi-faceted culture, language and belief… this is what makes them significant,” Setalvad said.
Megha Pansare, daughter-in-law of CPI leader Govind Pansare, also attended the event. Govind Pansare was shot at outside his home in Kolhapur on February 16 and succumbed to his injuries on February 20 in Mumbai.
“On one side, the murders of writers have taken place. It’s time for progressive people and rationalist forces to join hands and raise their voice through all mediums,” Pansare said.
Actor Sharmila Tagore also voiced her views at the event via a pre-recorded video clip. She said the attacks on writers and artistes were against the basic principles of democracy.
“This kind of protest is to reclaim and restore what Indian rational logic actually is,” she said.