Disaster of identity contestation: the fate of Chemmeen – Praveen Pilassery


It is definitely worse of times – at least for writers and other activists who live with freedom to express. It was two weeks back great literary figure and Jnanapith winner late Thakazhy Sivasankara Pillai was attacked by Araya Samudhayam of Allappuzha (a coastal region in Kerala) alleging that the literary figure insulted the community’s feelings in his magnum opus ‘Chemmeen’. This work is considered as one of the best piece of literature in the Malayalam language (which narrates the life of fisher folk in this area) and later adapted to celluloid by Ramu Kariat. The film received international attention and awards. Now it is the golden jubilee year of the releasing of film. The government and other cultural society decided to celebrate the historical event but, rather as a shocking surprise, the community about whom the novel speaks about declared that they will not allow anyone to enter the region for such a celebration.

This is happening not in vacuum. Intolerance towards disagreements became a political open agenda than a fashion nowadays. Throughout the nation it is happening. The murder of Krishna Kirwale at Maharashtra is just another addition to this list (still police says that it is nothing political but personal arguments with Prof. Krishna ended up in his murder. But no murder is created by a single particular reason. It is not only a physical act but the end result of many past events and thoughts.). It is just one week back Tarek Fatah was given a fatwa by Muslim fundamentalists. It was two months back M T Vasudevan Nair was attacked by Modi brigade because he spoke against demonetization. We can see the names of Sachidanandhan, Amritha Peetam, A K Ramanujan, Perumal Murugan and many others. Very often we can see this kind of attack on those who disagrees in FB, whatever the topic is, by those who believe in ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’. Members of discussion groups and cultural forums were getting attacked at campuses, university spaces, small towns etc. which is not even get noticed.

We respect individuals and communities right to protest but we demand same respect from you towards other’s freedom to express. Please don’t take the quantitative figure of your supporters as a reason to suppress others because when time pass it is not the might of muscles but the reason of ideas will dominate the society. It is better to disagree than destroying each other. As organic creatures, we will have difference of opinion among us but it is better to celebrate our disagreements.


Indian Ruminations, Editorial Team


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