New Delhi: Hindutva, “not Hinduism” which proscribes violence, is driving the protests against ‘Padmavati’, writer Nayantara said today.
Speaking at the Times LitFest, the 90-year-old author said people should “forget” about other people’s sensitivities, and let art, culture and literature flourish.
Had they worried about hurting people’s sentiments, burning of widows and the practise of sati would never have been abolished, she said.
“The makers and the actress (of ‘Padmavati’) have been threatened by violence. This is Hindutva not Hinduism. The first teaching of Hinduism is non-violence,” she said.
While Hindutva prescribed violence, Hinduism preached quite the opposite, she claimed.
“We have to hurt sentiments when the sentiments are wrong. We are 1 billion plus people and we must have 1 billion plus one sensitivities… so, some sensitivity is always in conflict with another,” she said.
Citing incidents of violence that occurred over the past few years like lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri over suspicion of beef consumption or the killing of Pehlu Khan by cow vigilantes, she said they went beyond “intolerance”.
“These are murders,” she said, adding that silence was not an option.
“…because they have ordered us not to speak, we have decided to speak at every event that is open to us,” she said.
Sahgal was among the over 40 writers who had returned their Sahitya Akademi awards in December 2015 to protest against the killings of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi.
She alleged that Indians were living in constant fear of getting killed if they disagreed with the beliefs of the government and likened the current regime to an “undeclared dictatorship”.
“We are in an undeclared dictatorship because if the people who disagree are being murdered, then it is a dictatorship,” the writer claimed.
When asked if her cousin and former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s regime was similar to that of the current dispensation, Sahgal said it was “trying too hard to be like her”.
“But, let me make a distinction. She was a democrat gone wrong, and the present dispensation is fascist. There can be no comparison,” she claimed.
The writer was also given the Lifetime Achievement award today.
“One goes through life wondering if anyone is listening.
And, now I know that some people have been listening and reading what I have written, and understand what I have stood for,” she said while accepting the honour.