Ruckus over poem ‘hinting at Modi’ at Bellary international poetry festival

Ruckus over poem ‘hinting at Modi’ at Bellary international poetry festival

Trouble broke out at an international poetry meet in Karnataka’s Bellary on Saturday when an audience member took offence at a poem that purportedly hinted at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The festival, titled “Sangam—Confluence of World Poets,” is scheduled to be held in Bellary from October 21 to 24. Around 50 poets are taking part in the festival, including 20 from India and around 30 from around the world. Many of the poets are from Latin American countries, including Chile, Venezuela, and Colombia.

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Wilson Kateel, a poet from Mangaluru, was reciting his poem titled “Sarvadhikari Preetisabekittu” (The Dictator Should Have Fallen In Love) at the conference hall on Saturday. Moments into the recitation, Ramanath Bhandarkar, an audience member, stood up and demanded that the poet name the “dictator” in the poem.

However, Kateel paid no heed and continued with the recitation. An enraged Bhandarkar, who had been joined by a few more people in the audience, started heckling the poet. By then, some other poets had started raising slogans in support of Kateel.

As Bhandarkar and his supporters raised “Modi zindabad” slogans, those with Kateel demanded an encore as a token of protest against “an attempt to thwart freedom of expression.” Eventually, Bhandarkar walked out of the hall along with his supporters, and the poetry session continued.

(With agency inputs)

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