Malayalam writer Kamal C Chavara, who was booked for insulting the national anthem in December last year, has alleged he was attacked by a member of the Sangh Parivar on Sunday in Kunnamangalam near Kozhikode in north Kerala, a day after he burnt his book in public.
Chavara, who is also a theatre activist, said the incident took place in a bar where the attacker approached him asking whether he was the one who had burnt his book on Saturday. When he said yes, the assailant slapped him and pushed him to the floor without any provocation, he said.
The writer said while slapping him the assailant said he was a Sangh Parivar activist and threatened that those who criticise national symbols will meet with dire consequences.
“He slapped me and hit me in the chest several times. Since he threatened me to come out of the bar for more I remained there and called the police,” he said.
He was injured in the attack and is admitted to Kozhikode medical college hospital.
Later, the police took the assailant into custody and described the incident as a drunken brawl. However, the writer said he would approach senior officials.
Chavara had symbolically “cremated” his controversial novel Smashanangalude Notupustakam (A Book on Graveyards) in protest against the alleged police high-handedness and what he called fascist action by the Sangh Parivar.
He said along with his book some activists had burnt a copy of “Manu Smriti” that infuriated the saffron outfit.
However, a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader dismissed the incident as a “mere publicity gimmick.”
The writer was arrested on December 17 for allegedly insulting the national anthem on social media. Charged with section 124 A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), he was released after human rights activists and others criticised the police action.
Though the police said the charges against him were dropped, Chavara claimed that he was continuously being harassed by law enforcement agencies.
Chavara had courted trouble after he posted excerpts of his latest novel Smashanangalude Notupustakam on Facebook. The Bhartiya Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the BJP, had filed a complaint against him claiming that he had insulted the national anthem.
“In a school in Kerala, there were 44 students, named after 44 rivers of the state which had all dried up. The teacher never bothered to meet requests of students, including the request to go to the toilet to urinate. At 4pm every day they had to stand up for the national anthem. Since urinating was more important to me than ‘Jana, Gana, Mana’, I was the most indisciplined student,” the excerpts read.