An acclaimed Muslim scholar of Kerala was forced to stop a newspaper column on the Ramayana after a fringe rightwing Hindu group allegedly launched a hate campaign against him for “criticising” Lord Rama.
Literary critic MM Basheer, 75, stopped his column in Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi in August after he was allegedly flooded with calls from unidentified people who objected to his writing on the epic, which chronicles the life and times of Hindu deity Lord Rama.
“Every day, I would get repeated calls abusing me for writing on the Ramayana. At the age of 75, I was being reduced to just a Muslim. I couldn’t take it and I stopped writing,” Basheer was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Based in Kozhikode, Basheer is counted among Kerala’s most erudite and unbiased literary critics.
He stopped his column after the fifth of a six-part series titled Rama’s Anger, the report said.
“The callers would ask me what right I had to criticise Lord Rama,” said Basheer, a former professor of Malayalam at the University of Calicut.
The report quoted him as saying his series was based on Valmiki’s Ramayana, which “depicts Rama with human characteristics and does not shy away from criticising his actions”.
Besides Basheer, the newspaper’s editors received a series of abusive calls every day after the first column appeared on August 3.
Though the callers did not identify themselves, the report said the Hindu group, Hanuman Sena, later pasted posters near the newspaper’s head office in Kozhikode.
The group was in the news when its cadres resorted to vandalism in the city during protests against moral policing in Kerala earlier this year. Activists say minority communities and their institutions have been constantly targeted by Hindu groups since the BJP-led NDA swept to power at the Centre last year.