Days after the Karni Sena, protesting over the release of Padmaavat, warned that Censor Board chief Prasoon Joshi would not be allowed to enter Rajasthan for the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), the poet-lyricist on Saturday said he had decided to skip the event to avoid “discomfort” to the organisers and “fellow writers”.
“(I) will not be attending JLF this year and must say will miss sharing great moments with literature and poetry lovers. I am doing this so that the dignity of the event does not get compromised or discomfort caused either to the organisers, fellow writers or the attendees. And also so that the lovers of literature get to focus on creativity and not controversy,” Joshi said in a statement released in the morning.
Joshi addressed the release of Padmaavat in his statement: “I did my job and sincerely took a sensitive and balanced call. As I have said earlier, certification was done with due processes, incorporating valid suggestions whilst staying mindful to the concerns of society as well as to the canvas of cinema. It’s sad that we are not relying on genuine peaceful dialogue. It’s important that we keep mutual trust and faith in each other and our institutions so that the issues don’t reach this far.”
Joshi was scheduled to address a session titled “Main Aur Woh: Conversations with Myself” on Sunday. A few hours after Joshi’s statement was released, Sanjoy Roy, co-founder and managing director of Teamwork Arts, which organises JLF, addressed a press conference. “We respect the stand that Prasoon Joshi has taken. We also want to thank Rajasthan government and the police because they have taken care of every visitor, every author and they’ve ensured the safety and security of everybody here. I also want to say that there is no place for violence in the narrative of a new India. Whoever ignites the flame of hatred, will be consumed,” he said.
Cinema and multiplex owners in four states, including Rajasthan, are yet to screen Padmaavat. Speaking to The Indian Express on Friday, Shri Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena leader Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi said they would not allow Joshi to enter the state. “We will vehemently oppose his visit to Rajasthan. I have informed my teams in other states to oppose him wherever he goes. They flatter the government and take ripe posts and then force decisions on everyone as per their whims,” he said.