Saying that the revocation of an invite to English writer Nayantara Sehgal was a matter of “shame and regret”, Marathi poet and president of the 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan Aruna Dhere has said, “It was a grave mistake. It’s not proper to bow to threats from forces outside the literary world. We couldn’t look at the invite sent to her with the view that everyone is entitled to freedom of expression. This Sammelan is a forum for dialogue. If it’s not, we should make it one.”
The Sammelan began at Yavatmal on Friday with the shadow of Sehgal episode enveloping those on the dais as well as in the audience. Speaker after speaker, including Maharashtra Education and Cultural Affairs Minister Vinod Tawade, regretted the revocation to invite to Sehgal. Some participants had even worn masks of Sehgal to register their protest and police asked them to remove the masks. Some protesters also raised slogans when Tawade was speaking.