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PEN International to hold annual congress in Pune in September

PEN director Carles Torner said that the main reason to come to India was to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi to mark 150 years since his birth.

pune Updated: Feb 16, 2018 13:54 IST
Shalaka Shinde
Shalaka Shinde
Hindustan Times, Pune
PEN International,Annual Congress,Carles Torner
Uma Pansare, wife of Govind Pansare; Shaila Dabholkar, Dr Dabholkar’s wife; Carles Torne, director, PEN and Ganesh Devy were present at the press conference.(HT Photo)

PEN International, an international writers’ organisation which has established a strong stand against the killing of rationalists and thinkers, will hold its first-ever annual Congress in the country in Pune. The organisation, which is active in over 100 countries, has spoken out against the killing of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh among others.

Citing various reasons for coming to India, the director of the organisation Carles Torner said that the main reason to come to India is to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi to mark 150 years since his birth.Shaila Dabholkar, Dr Dabholkar’s wife and Uma Pansare, wife of Govind Pansare, were also present at the Sadhana Media Centre where Torner announced the Congress.

Speaking strongly against the slow rate of investigations in these murders, Torner said, “Three years ago, we had this Congress in Canada and we wrote a long statement saluting and supporting all the intellectuals who were giving back the award of the Sahitya Akademi. We are protesting very strongly to the killings of Dabholkar, comrade Pansare and Dr Kalburgi. In the previous Congress held in Ukraine last year, we also made a strong protest for the killing of Gauri Lankesh, remembering that the three cases of 2015 have not been solved. We protested in front of the Indian authorities because impunity in those cases is not going to stop violence. The trials should take place and all those responsible should hear the voice of justice. Impunity is not acceptable to us.”

Torner and Ganesh Devy, former professor of English and language diversity researcher, announced that the organisation will hold its annual Congress in September.“As writers across the world, we are struggling to support our friends, our colleagues in prisons. And Gandhi, his commitment to truth and non-violence, is a star which is guiding our work,” Torner said.

Virendra Tawade, the ear-nose-throat (ENT) special doctor by profession, who was arrested in the Dabholkar as well as Pansare case, was granted bail by the Kolhapur court in the Pansare case in January. Uma Pansare and Shaila Dabholkar, both criticised the lack of political conviction and police action in the case.

“He was killed five minutes away from a police chowky. What should have happened in 5 minutes did not happen in 5 hours and now it has been five years and yet no substantial progress has been made,” Shaila Dabholkar said.“The fearlessness of Gandhi, Kalburgi, Dabholkar and Pansare should be among the people of this country,” she added.

“We are also committed to cases like the case of Perumal Murugan in Tamil Nadu. We also salute when there is a good development like in the case when the Madras court rued that police had the obligation to protect Murugan in front of the hate groups who were attacking him. All those cases are happening in India and will be brought to the Congress in a larger context,” Torner said.

PEN International is working for 900 cases round the world including killing of prominent journalists in Bangladesh, Mexico, Honduras, imprisonment of 150 journalists in Turkey andprosecution of freedom in China, in Russia, Torner said.

First Published: Feb 16, 2018 13:52 IST