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Kerala Police Arrest 7 Sangh Parivar Workers For 'Threatening' Malayalam Poet Sreekumar

Poet Kureepuzha Sreekumar was verbally abused and mobbed allegedly by RSS activists, while on his way back from an event organized by a local library at Kottukal.

Chandrakanth Viswanath | News18.com

Updated:February 6, 2018, 10:56 PM IST
Kerala Police Arrest 7 Sangh Parivar Workers For 'Threatening' Malayalam Poet Sreekumar
Malayalam Poet K Sreekumar. (Image: Facebook)

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Police on Tuesday arrested seven Sangh Parivar activists, including a panchayat member of BJP, for allegedly “threatening” Malayalam poet Kureepuzha Sreekumar in Kadakkal, Kollam district on Monday night.

The poet was allegedly verbally abused and mobbed while on his way back from an event organised by a local library at Kottukal.

The 62-year-old poet, in his speech, had allegedly criticised the Sangh Parivar in the wake of the Vadayampady issue where a section of Dalits had outraged against discrimination by the upper caste and ill-treatment to the body of painter Ashanthan.

As Sreekumar was about to leave the event venue on Monday night, a group of protesters — mostly RSS workers — surrounded the poet and allegedly threatened him.

"It was the timely intervention of panchayat officials and library employees that dissuaded the miscreants who surrounded me with an intention of physical attack," the poet told reporters later.

However, the BJP has denied the allegation of an 'attack' and stated the poet has raised the allegation for 'publicity'.

"There was no attack or any attempt to attack on Kureeppuzha Sreekumar by the BJP or RSS activists and the allegation is baseless. However, it is true that some people did question him on some references that he made in his speech. It is nothing but intolerance and fascism to brand those who question him, as criminals without addressing them properly," BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan told reporters.

The popular poet who is a known atheist was embroiled in a controversy earlier, too, when he refused to accept the 'Sree Padmanabhaswamy Award' as it was named after a Hindu God. He is also a recipient of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for his work 'Keezhalan'.

When the issue was raised in the Kerala Assembly on Tuesday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government will provide necessary protection to ensure that everyone has the right to freedom of expression.

"Attacks on freedom of expression in the country has grown over the past few years. MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Gauri Lankesh lost their lives due to such intolerance. In Kerala, renowned writer MT Vasudevan Nair and filmmaker Kamal were among those who had been threatened. Such incidents would be dealt with sternly and will not be allowed to be repeated," the chief minister said, while replying to a submission on the matter by local MLA Mulakara Ratnakaran.

CM Pinarayi Vijayan added, “Kerala stands out as an island of hope when attacks on freedom of expression have ravaged the country.”

Meanwhile, the literary fraternity in Kerala has came out in support of the poet, expressing their displeasure over the attack on ‘freedom of expression’. Writers K Sachidanandan, KR Meera and actor-activist Joy Mathew posted strong statements against the attack.

After a case was registered against 15 persons, BJP district committee member S Vijayan filed a petition with the Kadakkal Circle Inspector alleging, the poet's remarks were “highly provocative” and that he tried to incite communal disharmony through his speech.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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