Marathi writer HM Marathe was arrested by Pune police on Wednesday on charges of inciting social enmity. Police acted on a complaint filed against Marathe by the Sambhaji Brigade, a local group which objected to certain references in the writer's letter to members of the Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Mahamandal. Marathe was released on bail by a local court on Wednesday evening.
The letter in question was sent by Marathe last week, and sought votes for an election to the post of president of an annual Marathi literary meet. The letter purportedly had references to author James Laine, whose book Shivaji - Hindu King in Islamic India has been banned in the country.
The Sambhaji Brigade, which protested against Laine's book several years ago, took offence to the contents of the letter. Marathe, who has written against the Brigade's "anti-Bramhin" campaign in the past, clarified that he referred to Laine's book only to clear certain misunderstandings that voters may have had. But the clarification was rejected by several sections of the literati. Ashok Bagwe and Nagnath Kotapalle, the other presidential candidates at the elections to be held during the literary meet, took strong exception to the letter. Marathe was accused of polarising voters through his letter.
On Saturday, Sambhaji Brigade submitted a memorandum to Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Mahamandal seeking cancellation of Marathe's candidature. This was followed by a police complaint. The group even threatened a statewide agitation on the issue. Marathe, meanwhile, apologised and said that referring to James Laine was a mistake.