To watch BBC documentary or ‘Kashmir Files’ is individual choice, says Jnanpith winner Damodar Mauzo

The short story writer said that freedom(s) to watch, eat, and dress is an entitlement. He also condemned the assassination of activists and journalists including Gauri Lankesh.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Jan 28, 2023 | 1:14 PMUpdatedJan 28, 2023 | 2:36 PM

Damodar Mauzo speaking at Hyderabad Literary Festival (Hyderabad Lit Fest)

Noted short-story writer and 2022 Jnanpith Award winner Damodar Mauzo said there is nothing wrong with watching the BBC documentary, India: The Modi Question.

Mauzo was speaking on the opening day of the annual Hyderabad Literary Festival (HFL) at a session named after his book, Ink of Dissent: Critical Writings on Language, Literature, and Freedom, on Friday, 27 January.

“What is wrong with watching the BBC documentary or the movie, Pathaan? It’s an individual’s choice whether to watch it or not,” Mauzo told South First at the Hyderabad Lit Fest.

Mauzo also touched upon the assassination of prominent personalities, including Narendra Dabholkar and Gauri Lankesh.

The HFL has returned to offline mode after a two-year Covid-enforced hiatus. It is being held at Vidyaranya High School in Khairtabad from 27 to 29 January.

Jnanpith winner at Hyderabad Literary Festival

During a discussion with Goa-based architect Pritha Sardessai at the Hyderabad Literary Festival, Mauzo stressed the need for saving his native Konkani language and literature.

He highlighted the necessity for freedom in multiple areas, calling them “freedoms”.

“Freedom to eat, dress, and watch is our entitlement in life. It is provided to us by the Constitution of India,” he opined.

Over this week, AISF, SFI, and others screened the BBC documentary on campuses. The two-episode documentary has been blocked by the Union Government.

In central universities such as Pondicherry and JNU, clashes were reported between the BJP student outfit, ABVP, and Left student organisations.

“Whether it’s the BBC documentary or Kashmir Files, it’s all the choice of a person. But creativity and facts have to be argued through debates and discussions. Violence is unacceptable,” said Mauzo, a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel Karmelin in 1983.

“I was reading a few days ago that ABVP asking somewhere not to eat non-vegetarian food. They should be corrected,” Mauzo added at the Hyderabad Lit Fest.

In April 2022, ABVP and Left groups clashed over having non-vegetarian food during the Hindu festival, Ram Navami.

Two weeks ago, Delhi University’s Hansraj College reportedly stopped serving non-vegetarian food in its canteen. Many students from South India complained about it.

Also read: Amidst drama at HCU, students screen BBC docu on campus again

Writers can’t be cheerleaders of state

Noting that “objective regimes” in power are becoming an international phenomenon, he said that artists, writers, and thinkers can’t be censored.

Mauzo found it unacceptable for writers to become cheerleaders of governments.

“When Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency, we took to the streets. There is no way writers should appease any government like it’s happening these days,” he pointed out.

He strongly condemned the assassination of author Narendra Dabholkar, Professor MM Kalburgi, CPI leader Govind Pansare and journalist Gauri Lankesh.

“Those who give life threats are cowards,” he added.

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