A young Muslim writer was allegedly beaten up by four men in the Palakkad district of Kerala on Sunday night for using a controversial title for his upcoming book.
P. Jimshar, 26, is the author of a collection of nine short stories titled Padachonte Chithrapradarshanam, which translates as A Painting Exhibition by the Creator. The word "padachon", or creator in Malayalam, was taken to be a reference to God by the attackers. Jimshar has clarified that the title has nothing to do with god and is borrowed from one of the stories featured in the volume. The book is expected to be published by DC Books on 5 August.
As Jimshar was waiting at a bus stop in Koottanadu, a man walked up to him, took him aside and asked him if he would write about "padachon" in a derogatory manner. Nobody has the right to invoke the name of God in a literary work, Jimshar was told, before he was set upon by the men, who are believed to be Islamic fundamentalists. Jimshar sustained serious injuries, before losing consciousness. An autorickshaw driver found him lying on the street and took him to the nearest hospital.
The police have registered a case under Sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 34 (criminal acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the attackers.
Last year Tamil writer, Perumal Murugan, was persecuted for his novel One Part Woman, which is based on a ancient and controversial practice among Tamil Hindus. A case was lodged against him for offending the sensibilities of a certain community. Earlier this month, Madras High Court dismissed it in a landmark judgement. "The choice to read is always with the reader," read the verdict. "If you do not like a book, throw it away. There is no compulsion to read a book. Literary tastes may vary - what is right and acceptable to one may not be so to others. Yet, the right to write is unhindered."