Statement in Support of
Perumal Murugan-The Tamil Writer

In support of Perumal Murugan
In another shocking and serious blow to the freedom of expression, Perumal Murugan, an influential Tamil writer at the peak of his creative powers, has been bullied, blackmailed and harassed by anonymous vested religious elements led by the Hindutva right, in collusion with the police and the state administration of Tamil Nadu, into helpless submission – so much so that he has, in pain and frustration, announced that he is giving up writing altogether. Perumal Murugan’s sensitive and distinctive novel, Madhorubagan, was published as far back as 2010 in Tamil and has run into many editions. An English translation of the book was published in 2013 under the title One Part Woman and also went into more than one edition. As if on cue to an orchestrated campaign initiated by the RSS and the BJP in the state, the work has, over the last few weeks, suddenly come under attack for allegedly being offensive to the local dominant caste of Tiruchengode (near Erode in Tamil Nadu), where the story is set some time in the early part of the twentieth century.
This motivated retrospective and retroactive literary witch hunt and inquisition of the novelist has been abetted by the police and the district administration in the form of a so-called ‘peace meeting’ to which Perumal Murugan was summoned on January 12. The proceedings of the meeting, as reported by the lawyer friend who accompanied him, resembled that of an arbitrary katta panchayat (khap panchayat), brow-beating the writer into a humiliating unconditional apology for what he had written, and into promising to retract whatever supposedly gave offence. All that the police could or would do to protect  Perumal Murugan was to advise him to stay away from Tiruchengode for his own safety. The author is now in effective exile from his home, where he and his wife lived and worked, and has been reduced to pleading with his publishers not to sell or reprint any of his books and promising to compensate the loss they incurred on account of this.
Can we allow a set of unidentified rabid and fascistic forces to kill the soul of a writer thus? We call upon the state government of Tamil Nadu to protect the writer, his constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression and his creative integrity from such extra-constitutional cultural censors. We call upon artists, writers, intellectuals, readers and the concerned public at large to rise to the defence of democracy imperilled by this unwarranted and vile abrogation of an author’s right to write.

Irfan Habib                
Ram Rahman
Prabhat Patnaik           
Mihir Bhattacharya                           
Saeed Mirza
Malini Bhattacharya                         
Jayati Ghosh
Geeta Kapur                                        
Venktesh Athreya                              
Madangopal Singh
Vivan Sundaram                                
Parthiv Shah                                        
Sohail Hashmi
Anil Bhatti                                           
Teesta setalvad                                   
Zahoor Siddiqui
Archana Prasad                                  
Nilima Sheikh                                      
Veer Munshi
Anil Sadgopal                                      
Vishwamohan Jha                             
Arjun Dev
Indu Chandrasekhar                         
Amar Farooqui                                   
Atluri Murali
Badri Raina                                         
Biswamoy Pati
Praveen Jha                                         
Indira Arjun Dev
Lata Singh                                           
Prabhat Shukla
Rahul Verma                                       
Rakhshanda Jalil                                
Sashi Kumar
Antara Dev Sen                                  
Kumkum Sangari                                               
Dinesh Abrol
Shehla Hashmi Grewal                      
Jagdish Lal Dawar                              
Asad Zaidi
Kanishka Prasad                                
Sheba Chhachhi                                 
Chanchal Chauhan
Navdeep Kumar                                 
Charu Gupta                                         
Abdul Mabood 
Kaushlendra Pandey                         
Girsh Shrivastava                                               
Abhilasha Kumari              
Harendra Singh                                   
Raja Jaikrishna                                     
Gopalakrishna Nair          
Puneet Sharma                                     
R. Ramachandran                            
Nina Rao
Ayesha Kidwai                                    
Imrana Qadeer                                   
Vandana Rag
Prabhu Ghate                                      Ataullah                                                              
Harbans Mukhia
Saba Hasan                                         
Jawarimal Parakh