In another instance of religious intolerance, a writer in Kerala was¬†forced to stop his daily column on Ramayana for being a Muslim. M M¬†Basheer, a noted literary critic and former professor of Malayalam at¬†the University of Calicut, stopped his column named ‚ÄėRamayanam¬†Jeevithasaramritham‚Äô (Essence of Ramayana) in Malalayalam daily¬†Mathrubhumi after he received as many threat and abuse calls from the¬†right wing groups. Basheer, who is 75, was originally entitled to write¬†six columns for the newspaper this August, however, stopped at five¬†after the threats escalated to an intolerable level. He got continuous¬†pestering calls mocking his identity as a Muslim writing a column based¬†on a Hindu script.
Even posters threatening Basheer was put up near the newspaper‚Äôs head¬†office in Kozhikode the day after the column started appearing on the¬†daily on August 3. It is learnt from the sources that Hanumansena is¬†behind the act. The right wing group has been in the forefront in¬†unleashing attack on ‚ÄėKiss of Love‚Äô protest in the state few months
Though Basheer was unavailable for comment, a close source with¬†Mathrubhumi told Tehelka that he was deeply upset with the threat calls¬†and being termed a Muslim. Though he belonged to Muslim community,¬†Basheer sir ever in his life showed any inclination to religious groups¬†or organization, said the journalist.
He added that Basheer sir was one among the few literary figures in the¬†state who is active even at this age. His column on Ramayana garnered¬†public attention for the way he dealt the topic in a simple, easy¬†language. A reader of the column said that she he felt proud for Basheer¬†sir taking efforts in researching and studying Ramayana deeply.
Basheer did not attend the phone even after Tehelka made repeated¬†efforts soon after the issue was out on Friday morning. The Indian¬†Express carried a detailed report referring to him as saying that he¬†stopped the column after he received continuous threat calls from the¬†unnamed persons. He in that interview says, bit emotionally, that at
this age he cannot withstand this level of a criticism and stopped¬†writing. He also added that no persons were willing to hear his version¬†or explanation regarding the column.
‚ÄúTo the few who showed patience, I explained that the previous year I¬†had written on Adhyatma Ramayana (the popular foundational text of¬†Malayalam by Thunchathu Ezhuthachhan) and I spoke about Rama the God‚Ä¶
But few among the callers knew the difference between the two texts and¬†very few cared. Most callers kept insisting that I tried to attribute¬†human qualities to Rama because I was a Muslim,‚ÄĚ said Basheer in the¬†Indian Express.
Meanwhile, writer Suneeta Balakrishnan told Tehelka that the news could¬†be seen as a concerted effort of certain vested interests to instill¬†fear among the people. A man of his scholarly calibre, Basheer sir has¬†only interpreted a classical literature through his column and did¬†nothing offensive.