Noted Marathi littérateur Shripal Sabnis Monday accused Karnataka Police of preventing a group of writers from Maharashtra from attending a literary festival in Belgaum district of Karnataka.
Sabnis said the group of over 30 Marathi authors and poets from Pune, Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur were on their way to Indalhod village in Belgaum to attend the ‘Marathi Sahitya Sammelan’ Sunday when police stopped them at the inter-state border.
“We were stopped by about 400 police personnel from proceeding to the village where the ‘Marathi Sahitya Sammelan’ had been organised by the local Marathi-speaking people. It was a part of efforts to bridge the gap between Marathi and Kannada speaking populations in the area,” Sabnis said.
Despite repeated requests, Sabnis claimed, Karnataka Police did not to allow them to proceed to the village from Belgaum. “They cited no reason. Just said they had orders from the top,” he added.
The littérateur claimed the BJP-led government in Karnataka might have been influenced by his past criticism of the Narendra Modi government in the Centre. “I was stopped maybe because I have been critical of Modi earlier. But this is a dictatorial attitude of the state government. The Karnataka government has behaved in a shameful manner by trying to stop Marathi authors who had come to spread goodwill and send out a message of unity, peace and brotherhood among Marathi and Kannada-speaking people,” he said.
Belgaum, which falls in Karnataka, has been claimed by Maharashtra as well in a long-pending dispute.
Sushilkumar Shinde, former Union home minister and chief minister of Maharashtra, also criticised the action by Karnataka Police. “People of Karnataka read English literature. Then why should there be any opposition in the border areas to Marathi literature, which belongs to our own country. The bid to impose a ban on Marathi literature is condemnable,” he said.
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