Time to get rid of ‘religious extremism’: Writers, thinkers

Bengaluru: It was the new “freedom struggle” to set society free of consumerism and intolerance, as khaki-clad weavers, intellectuals, writers and students gathered at Central College on Sunday to swear allegiance to socialism and free thought. “Religious extremism has been prevalent for long, but it has taken deeper roots after the BJP government came to power in 2014,” they said.

Veteran filmmaker M.S. Sathyu said, “Religious fascism is growing fast and we are living in a fascist world. Fascism came to India during the Emergency imposed by Mrs Indira Gandhi, but it has become more prevalent because of the communal party and organisation like the BJP and RSS.”

The Dakshinayana and Gram Seva Sangh joined the movement to initiate a dialogue between different communities, with the belief that literature is a harbinger of peace and will counter the looming threat over the country,

Theatre activist Prasanna said, “Religious fanaticism is destructive and literature is a bridge. After this meet, litterateurs will go back to their communities to teach them about tolerance.”

Those attending the meet swore to uphold secularism, nationalism, responsibility of a writer and the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (“the world is one family”).

Prof. Ganesh Devi, a renowned linguist, referring to the recent lynching of innocents, said that the accused have been given the status of celebrities. “We are living at a time when the accused are celebrated and the victims are tortured. I don’t even understand the concept of hate against Pakistan. I can hate nobody, because I believe that love alone can build bridges,” he said.  

The writers said that they that they have stood by the values and traditions of saints and the concept of socialism, which alone will help rebuild a modern healthy community.

Historian and author Ramachandra Guha, commenting on the arrest of five activists from across the country by the Pune police for an alleged plot to assassinate the Prime Minister, said that the police can be very good fiction writers.

Quoting one of his two idols, Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Mr Guha said, “Bhakti in religion is a root to the salvation of soul and bhakti in politics is a root to dictatorship.”

He said, “We need Mahatma Gandhi and Ambedkar of the 1930s and 1940s. Dr Ambedkar, during his last speech to the Constituent Assembly, asked, ‘Soon we would become one person one vote, but when would be become one vote one value?’ Today we need them.” 

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