By Maitreyee Shukla
Barely two months have passed since everyone including President Pranab Mukerjee, PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Sushma Swaraj expressed their sadness at passing of Mahashweta Devi, calling her contributions peerless and influential in their personal lives as well.
Yet, when the department of English and Foreign languages at Haryana University decided to pay her a tribute by staging a play based on her famous story ‘Draupadi’, they were met with hooliganism, threats, media trials and ultimately administrative clamp down. (You see a pattern there?)
This is what happened:
On 21st September, the faculty of English and Foreign languages of the Haryana University staged a play based on Mahashweta Devi’s short story, ‘Draupadi , which tells the tale of custodial rape of Dopdi Mejhen, a tribal woman and a naxal. (You can watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lW2INqTo81g)
The epilogue of the play is attached here:
After the staging, another script started playing out. The well known harbingers of nationalism branded the organizers, the play, and by extension, Mahaswheta Devi as Anti- nationals.
The very next day, instead of checking the lumpen behavior, the administration sent a letter to the organizers demanding an explanation for the accusations being levied. (The letter, and the reply to it are attached).
The next step, obviously was involving the media. Several national newspapers like Dainik Jagran and Amar Ujala speaking the language of HU admin and ABVP, reported the play as an insult to the army. (Pictures attached).
This is not just an attempt at shrinking the democratic space of a university, it is also an insult to the memory of late Mahashweta Devi and vilification of her literary legacy. The concerned authorities are yet to take notice of the hooliganism. The administration has extended an unspoken but clear support to the lumpen elements.
Let’s stand in solidarity with the students and faculty of Haryana University.