New Delhi, Nov 28: Amid the debate over alleged intolerance, the publisher of Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, who had announced his “death” as a writer earlier this year following a series of protests by Hindutva outfits against his book “Madhurobhagan”, today opposed “subjective” interpretation of the right to free speech. (ALSO READ:Trucks carrying goods worth Rs 1.06 crore go missing ) Also Read - 'Not Right to Say All Are Hindus,' Athawale Slams Mohan Bhagwat Over '130 Crore People Are Hindu’ Remark
“The right to free speech has been interpreted very subjectively, and has been conveniently modified by individuals to suit their interest,” said Kannan Sundaram, founder of the Tamil Nadu-based publishing house Kalachuvadu Pathippagam which has brought out all novels by Murugan.
He stressed that aside from two constraints — not to defame anybody and not to provoke violence — there should not be any restriction on the right to freedom of expression. Also Read - Giriraj Singh: Modi Loyalist Who Wears Hindutva on His Sleeve
Sundaram was participating in a discussion on Creativity and Censorship at ‘Samanvay’ the ongoing Indian Languages Festival here today. He was joined by historian, author and translator A R Vankatachalapathy besides Sri Lankan writer, poet and activist Sharmila Seyyid.”When people say that I support Venkatachalapathy’s right to express himself, what they mean is that Venkatachalapathy is saying what I want to hear and he must have the right to express what I want to hear. That is the unsaid part of that support,” Sundaram said. Also Read - Fielding Thakur is BJP's Way of Consolidating Hindutva Vote-Bank: Yechury
Earlier, in January, Murugan announced he had renounced writing and would only be a teacher after he came under attack from Hindu groups for his novel.Murugan had then said, “Writer Perumal Murugan is dead. He will continue to live as a teacher.” It triggered a wave of outrage and concern from fellow authors and activists.
Sundaram cited an earlier speech titled ‘Freedom of Expression’ delivered by Marxist historian Aijaz Ahmad in one of the earliest protests by the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association, held in support of the 48-year-old writer.”I read the whole speech and from my perspective, the speech was against freedom of expression in every manner,” Sundaram said.
“If you take the speech literally, it meant should the Communist party come to power by thumping majority, they are well within their express rights to ban a series of novels. That’s what it says – we support novels that we agree with, and we won’t support those that we don’t agree with and in that case, it might be necessary to ban those novels,” he said