March 2, 2015 3:09:04 am
Twenty-five people stormed into Puliyur Murugesan’s house, kidnapped him, took him to the suburbs, with more than 10 motorbikes forming a convoy, and, for over three hours, attacked him with wooden clubs and stones.
Three days later, as the Tamil Nadu writer nurses multiple injuries at the Thanjavur government hospital, he has been slapped with an obscenity charge. His wife and children have fled their village in Karur, in almost a repeat of what happened to writer Perumal Murugan in the state in January 2015. Later, Murugan posted on Facebook that “writer Murugan” was dead.
In Murugesan’s case, as in Murugan’s, it is the Gounder community that has “taken offence”. Unlike Murugan, Murugesan himself is not Gounder.
Karur SP Joshy Nirmal Kumar said it was a clash between the author and the community whom he had upset with his “obscene” writings. “The way he has portrayed the community in his book is very, very bad and vulgar,” said Kumar.
Murugesan has been charged under IPC Sections 292 (writing a book with obscene content) and 502 (sale of book containing defamatory matter).
While refusing to talk about the alleged involvement of a local MLA, Kumar added that special teams had been formed to arrest those who attacked Murugesan. None of them has been arrested so far.
An LIC agent by profession, Murugesan had authored a book of 13 short stories, Balachandran Enroru Peyarum Enakku Undu (‘I also have another name — Balachandran’), one of which dealt with the sexual harassment and difficulties faced by a transgender who is forced to get married by parents. Murugesan’s first book, it was published in December 2014, and got into a controversy over that one story.
Under police security at the hospital, Murugesan told The Indian Express that, early last week, he had received a call from the leader of the Gounder community asking why he had portrayed his community “in a bad light”. “I clarified that it was fiction and that I didn’t mean any harm. I told him I neither had affection nor hatred towards any community. I told him I would meet him in person to discuss the matter. He called back and asked me to come to a place on February 25 evening where he said the whole community would gather to hear my explanation,” Murugesan said.
On that day, says the writer, a few hours before he was to start from his house, a group of 25 people arrived at his house, took him away in a car to a forest area off the Karur bypass road even as his wife protested, and beat him up. He claims they kept attacking him till the police arrived after being alerted by a local journalist.
Hospital sources said Murugesan had internal bleeding and blood clots all over his body.
In the story that has stirred controversy in Murugesan’s book, a transgender is forced to get married to a girl by his father so that he himself can have an affair with her. The transgender kills the father after he realises the truth. The father and transgender belong to the Gounder community.
As per the police, the book, written in slang, has vulgar and explicit descriptions of the sexual harassment and abuse faced by the transgender.
Unlike Murugan, who has given up writing and has asked that all his books be pulped, Murugesan says he will not stop writing.
A day after he was attacked, at least five buses were reported damaged in stone-pelting in Karur in a protest by Kongu Vellalar community outfits demanding action against him.
The Writers’ Association in Chennai has organised protests condemning the attack on Murugesan.
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