Suspected activists of an organisation on Sunday hurled ink at senior journalist and writer Girish Kuber at the Marathi literary meet here in Maharashtra in protest against some allegedly controversial references about Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj in his book.
The incident was condemned by NCP chief Sharad Pawar and senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis.
Prima facie, activists of Sambhaji Brigade were behind this incident as they were irked by some references Kuber has made about Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, in his book, sources said.
Kuber, the editor of Marathi daily Loksatta, reached the Kusumagraj Nagri here on the concluding day of the 94th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan earlier in the day. He was scheduled to attend a symposium.
When he was standing behind the stage of the main pandal, two-three unidentified men walked up to him and threw ink which fell on his face, hair and shirt. Some ink fell on police personnel present at the spot.
Police security has been stepped up in the area after this incident.
The incident has been condemned by leaders cutting across party lines including Sharad Pawar and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Pawar, who had visited the venue of the literary meet in Nashik earlier in the day, said the attack on a writer in protest against his work is akin to the attack on the principle of the freedom of expression.
"I condemn this incident which doesn't suit the image of Maharashtra," he said.
The NCP chief said he had read Kuber's book.
"Though there is a controversy over some portions of this book, at the same time, Kuber has the right to express himself. Those who disagree with his views also have the right to oppose him but such attack is not acceptable," he added.
Fadnavis, the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, said anything written against Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj should be condemned but restoring to an ink attack during a literary meet is not right.
"If something is factually wrong, it should be countered with facts and evidence," he said.
Kuber's book "Renaissance State: The Unwritten Story of the Making of Maharashtra" has been criticised by the Sambhaji Brigade for alleged objectionable references to Chhatrapati Sambhaji.
The Mumbai press club also condemned the incident.
"We believe that physical confrontation must not be a part of any civilised battle of ideas which must find expression through persuasion, reasoned arguments, and decent debate," the club said in a statement.
However, an unequivocal condemnation of the unruly act must not deter one from steadfastly taking an issue with the book's content and intent, it said.
"We note that there is a reasonable critique of the interpretation and presentation of the history of Maharashtra offered by Kuber. The book has been called out for its glaring errors of commission and omissions. It arguably treads the slippery slope of writing an exclusionary and distorted version of history, which ultimately proves counter-productive to nurture a society conducive to democratic and reasoned debate," the statement said.
Acknowledgement that the historical figure of Sambhaji Maharaj has been subjected to distorted perceptions to extend a particular cultural agenda is not antithetical to a firm opposition to the means adopted to counter such distortions, it added.
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