Priestly row at Marathi literary meet

Mumbai: Members of the 93rd All India Marathi Literary Meet (Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan) have said they have been receiving threatening calls for selecting Father Francis D'Britto as convener of the event to be held in Osmanabad.

Kautikrao Thale Patil, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Mahamandal, the organising body for this literary summit, claimed the members are receiving threatening calls.

The secretary, Milind Joshi, too received such calls and was told a 'Duryodhan' would be done to him. (In the Mahabharat war, Duryodhan was killed after being struck on his thighs with a mace).

Anand Dave, chief of the Brahman Mahasangh, said, "We appeal to the state government to scrap the appointment of D'Britto as the convener, because he is a Christian priest responsible for converting Hindus." Dave further questioned D'Britto's contribution to Marathi literature.

Thale Patil claims he received 20-25 calls but is yet to file a police complaint. "Those calling have a right to put forth their arguments but the fact is Father D'Britto's name was selected unanimously by all the members of the committee," said Thale Patil.

D'Britto has written two books in Marathi -- Srujanancha Mala and Subodh Bible - New Testament. He received a Sahitya Akademi award for the Subodh Bible book for translation in Marathi language category. He is known to be a progressive thinker and writer.

He was editor of a magazine for Catholics, called 'Survarta' between1983 and 2007. He discussed many socially relevant issues, not just those relevant to the Catholic community and the magazine won accolades in the Marathi literary world.

He formed the 'Harit Vasai Sanrakshan Samiti in the nineties, to help locals face the real estate mafia. His memoirs, titled 'Nahi mi Ekla' (I am not alone) describes all the causes he has taken up.

Earlier this year, the Sammelan sparked controversy after organisers withdrew its invitation to noted author Nayantara Sehgal, reportedly under political pressure.

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