Saffron outfits burn copies of Tamil novel, seek ban

The protesters claimed that the book portrays Lord Shiva and women devotees in a bad light.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Published:December 28, 2014 4:41 am

Nearly 50 people from right-wing outfits, headed by local BJP and RSS leaders, burnt copies of Tamil writer Perumal Murugan’s novel Mathorubagan, at Tiruchengode on Friday. The protesters claimed that the book portrays Lord Shiva and women devotees in a bad light.

They also filed a police complaint, demanding a ban on the 190-page book and the arrest of the publisher and author. However, it was unclear why the book, published in 2010, triggered protests now. Murugan, who has already approached the Namakkal police following alleged threat calls from right-wing outfits, said he had no clue why the book was being targeted four years after being published.

The author, a professor of Tamil at Namakkal Government Arts College, said it is unfortunate to face threats from people who have not even read the book fully. “Most of the threat calls were anonymous while all of them sounded abusive. As a writer, I would welcome any kind of criticism.

But burning copies of the book is really saddening. After all, what I have written is a fiction and like all my other works, the plot of Mathorubagan revolves around my native place, Tiruchengode, and its beliefs and myths,” he said.

Mathorubagan tells the story of Kali and his wife Ponna, and a conflict between them over attending a ritual for free and consensual sex on the last day of a 14-day long festival at the historic Kailasanathar temple in Tiruchengode. Kali tries to stop Ponna from attending the ritual meant for childless women. But Ponna goes missing.

Mathorubagan was translated and published in English by Penguin India titled “One Part Woman” in 2013. Kannan, publisher of Kalachuvadu, which brought out the book, said it does not defame any religion. “But people get hurt by many things including the narration of uncomfortable truths.

The Constitution does not safeguard anyone’s sentiments from getting hurt. Kalachuvadu will not withdraw Mathorubagan. We will not cease publishing his (Murugan’s) novels in print. We are prepared to fight this atrocity,” he said.