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Literary debate involving Pak poet cancelled in Ajmer on BJP ‘request’

A literary discussion on ‘shayari’ on either side of the border, between Indian poet and lyricist A M Turaz and Pakistani poet Abbas Tabish, scheduled for Monday evening in Ajmer district, was cancelled following a “request” from BJP district president Arvind Yadav.

Written by Hamza Khan | Jaipur |
February 23, 2016 11:02:16 am

A literary discussion on ‘shayari’ on either side of the border, between Indian poet and lyricist A M Turaz and Pakistani poet Abbas Tabish, scheduled for Monday evening in Ajmer district, was cancelled following a “request” from BJP district president.

“A discussion on ‘Shayari: sarhad se parey’ was scheduled for 6:30 pm at Jawahar Rangmanch between Turaz and Tabish. However, following a call from BJP district president Arvind Yadav, we had to cancel the programme,” said Rasbihari Gaur, a comedian and convenor of Ajmer Literary Festival (ALF), which has been through two editions. Among other films, Bajirao Mastani has featured lyrics by Turaz while Tabish is a well known poet in Pakistan.

Gaur said that every couple of months, a literary programme is organised in Ajmer as part of “ALF series”, culminating with the three-day ALF in September. “We had contacted the district administration and they had extended their full support. However, Yadav then made a ‘request’ to me over phone, so we decided to cancel the programme and avoid an unpleasant situation,” Gaur said. “Yadav said that the environment is not right to hold such a programme as there is immense anger among the people owing to recent terror acts by Pakistan,” he said.

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Tabish has been in India for the past few days and has been participating in literary programmes in other cities. On Sunday, Tabish had unveiled an Urdu poetry collection in Jaipur.

BJP’s Ajmer district president Arvind Yadav said, “We were opposed to the programme being organised by the ALF as it was featuring a Pakistani while the environment is not conducive, in the backdrop of terror attacks by Pakistan.” District Collector Dr Arushi Malik did not respond to queries by The Indian Express in this regard.

Terming it a curb on “freedom of expression,” PUCL leader Kavita Srivastava said that on one hand, the Prime Minister visits Pakistan while members of his own party oppose Pakistani poets from participating in literary programmes in India, which shows the hypocrisy of the party.

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