Jammu & Kashmir’s first All-India Literature Festival, scheduled for September, has been put off indefinitely. The decision followed a vicious campaign on Facebook describing the Litfest as ‘Indian propaganda’ and calling upon the people to disrupt the festival by throwing stones.
The organisers’ plans to keep the festival ‘apolitical’ boomeranged, because some elements in the valley saw it as a ‘government agenda’ to tom tom normalcy in the Valley. The political campaign was spearheaded by a couple of Kashmiri writers settled abroad.
Ironically, New York based author Basharat Peer (author of Curfewed Night) and London based Mirza Waheed (author of The Collaborator), both of whom declined to attend the festival on the ground that their writing is political, have received acclaim in various literature festivals including the one in Jaipur.
“It is bizarre; first a national daily claiming to be the ‘masthead of India’ erroneously reported that Salman Rushdie will be attending the festival, then writers like Mirza and Basharat denounced the festival,” exclaimed one of the organisers on Tuesday.
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