Event to honour Booker Prize winner Geetanjali Shree cancelled in Agra

The event was cancelled after a complaint by a Hathras resident that Geetanjali Shree's award-winning novel Ret Samadhi contained objectionable comments on Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati

Booker award winning author Geetanjali Shree told the organisers that she was hurt and did not wish to attend any public events for the time being

An event to felicitate International Booker Prize-2022 winner Geentanjali Shree in Agra on Saturday was cancelled by organizers following a complaint filed with the Hathras police station over the content of her award-winning book ‘Ret Samadhi’ (Tomb of Sand).

Sandeep Kumar Pathak, a resident of Sadabad town in Hathras, had sent a written complaint to the police against Geetanjali Shree, blaming her for alleged objectionable comments on Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati in her book hurting sentiments of Hindus, according to the organisers.

The event was organized cultural organisations, ‘Rangleela’ and ‘Agra Theatre Club’.

Also read: Geetanjali Shree wins International Booker Prize for Hindi novel ‘Tomb of Sand’

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“There was a lot of enthusiasm for the event as Geetanjali Shree was born in Mainpuri when her father was an IAS officer in this district of Agra division. The author did her schooling in different districts of Uttar Pradesh. It is really sad that the event had to be called off in such a manner,” said Anil Shukla from ‘Rangleela’ and Harvijay Bahia from ‘Agra Theatre Club’, in a joint statement.

Complainant seeks FIR

Pathak urged Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and the state police chief to file a first information report on the matter, the organisers said in a press release. The police said that they will read the book before deciding on whether to file a FIR.

As the matter came to light, Shree told the organisers that she was hurt and did not wish to attend any public events for the time being. She told them that on Wednesday, after the local media reported about the complaint in Hathras, some anti-social elements had tried to disrupt a felicitation event held in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

‘Attempt to sabotage’

“Geetanjali said there was a failed attempt allegedly by a student group of ABVP to sabotage her event when she was attending a felicitation function organised by the teachers’ union at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi a couple of days ago,” said the press statement issued to declare that the event had been called off in Agra.

“My novel is forcefully being dragged into a political controversy,” the author told the organisers. “The references made in the novel are integral part of Indian mythology. Those who have objections to these descriptions, should challenge the Hindu mythological texts in the court.”

Also read: Sustained efforts needed to bring Hindi literature centre-stage: Booker Prize winner Geetanjali Shree

Shree’s Ret Samadhi, translated into English by Daisy Rockwell as Tomb of Sand, had won the International Booker Prize 2022 in May. It is the first Hindi novel, and the first from India as well as south Asia, to win the award, which is for translated works of fiction from around the world.

 

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