Malayalam writer S Hareesh on Saturday announced withdrawal of his novel “Meesha’’, being serialised in ‘Mathrubhumi’ weekly, following alleged threats from Hindutva outfits.
Members of Hindutva outfits and fringe elements have been protesting against Hareesh, as well as the publishers, alleging that the novel insults temple-going Hindu women and traditions.
On Saturday, BJP Mahila Morcha members marched to the head office of Mathrubhumi in Kozhikode, demanding the novel’s withdrawal.
The novel, narrated in a Dalit background, depicts caste system that prevailed in Kerala about half-a-century ago.
Mathrubhumi weekly’s editor, Kamalram Sajeev, tweeted the novelist’s decision early on Saturday, “S Hareesh withdraws his novel ‘ meesha’, literature is being mob lynched, darkest day in Kerala’s cultural history, lightless days to follow.’’
Sajeev said Hareesh has been getting threats from fringe elements of Hindutva outfits, who accuse the writer of insulting Hindus through this work. “They threatened to physically attack him and his family. So he has decided to withdraw the novel. Mathrubhumi did not ask Hareesh to withdraw the novel – it was his decision,’’ Sajeev said.
Kerala Hindu Aikya Vedi president K P Sasikala said, “We know what fiction is and how to enjoy it, but there is a limit. After showing a lip-lock scene in a movie, can one justify it saying that the scene was only a dream?”
Sasikala said protests will continue until Mathrubhumi tenders an apology for publishing the “insulting” novel. “The novelist is not in our picture. We are blaming Mathrubhumi. If they don’t tender an apology, we will boycott the newspaper,’’ said Sasikala.
CPI(M) Politburo member and senior party leader M A Baby said such Hindutva groups should “immediately stop the attack” on Hareesh, last year’s winner of Kerala Sahitya Akademi award for short story. Urging the writer to resume publication of the novel, Baby said withdrawing it is “an insult to the state”.
Since the magazine hit the stands this week, containing the controversial portions, Hareesh has been reportedly facing threat on social media. The writer has complained that there have been posts on Facebook exhorting people to physically attack him and his family, forcing him to close his Facebook account.
Various Hindutva organisations have also protested this week in different parts of Kerala. On Wednesday, members of Hindutva outfits and temple priests’ associations marched to the state Secretariat, protesting against the novel for allegedly insulting Hindu traditions and rituals. On Friday, a book festival of Mathrubhumi was vandalised at Tripunithura near Kochi.