Noted writer Nayantara Sahgal said the country’s cultural diversity and freedom of expression is in danger and called upon the people to say no to “Hindu Rashtra”.
“Our cultural diversity is in danger. Our freedom of expression is in danger,” she said in hard hitting statement that was read out at a programme titled ‘Hastakshep: Jantantrik Aur Sanskritik Bahulata Ke Paksh Me’ in Gandhi Bhavan in Lucknow.
“Secularism is in danger. Hinduism itself is in danger, mocked and distorted by Hindutva. Let us make it clear: No Hindu Rashtra. Let that be our war cry,” were the closing lines of the statement from Sahgal that was read on Wednesday evening.
Sahgal is a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family, the second of the three daughters born to Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit.
She was awarded the 1986 Sahitya Akademi Award for English, for her novel ‘Rich Like Us’ (1985), by the Sahitya Akademi.
“The dangers we face today come from the fact that this Government is destroying the meaning of India, and step by step, stealthily and openly, is converting our secular democratic republic into a Hindu Rashtra,” she said.
“It started with the takeover of our premier institutions, the dismissal of their directors and their replacement by RSS mouthpieces,” Sahgal said.
“It has continued with the rewriting of history and the destruction of scientific temper by substituting mythology, fantasy and sheer nonsense for history and science. Suddenly Sardar Patel and Ambedkar have been adopted as RSS icons. Nehru, meanwhile, is being wiped out of history,” she said in the statement.
Sahgal has been one of the most vocal authors campaigning against the alleged dangers to freedom of expression.
“The Hindutva mindset does not allow dissent. Its believers have murdered those who do not think like them -- writers, truck drivers transporting cattle, and a helpless blacksmith. These murders have come to light and the criminals still roam free,” she said.
“Activists who are working for the victims of the Gujarat riots and other Hindutva atrocities are being persecuted. Art, literature, cinema, and common sense are under threat. And amid the cow paranoia, human life has no value”, she added.
Her statements were at the event that was a collaborative session by a number of organisations including Pragatishil Lekhak Sangh and Jan Sanskriti Manch, among others.