'Anti-govt poetry not allowed':Poet Ashok Vajpeyi refuses to participate in cultural fest organised by Rekhta
"Censorship is unacceptable," wrote Vajpeyi on Facebook. He was scheduled to attend a poetry session on Friday at the three-day Arth Culture Fest, organised by Zee at Sunder Nursery with other poets
Poet Ashok Vajpeyi on Friday said he won't participate in a cultural festival organised by Rekhta because the organisers asked him not to read poems critical of the government.
Vajpeyi was scheduled to attend a poetry session on Friday at the three-day Arth Culture Fest, organised by Zee, at Sunder Nursery with other poets, including Anamika, Badri Narayan, Dinesh Kushwaha and Manav Kaul. Rekhta Foundation is collaborating with the organisers on the poetry session.
"I won't be taking part in the culture fest organised by Arth and Rekhta because I have been asked to read such poems that do not directly critique politics or the government. This type of censorship is unacceptable," Vajpeyi wrote in Hindi on Facebook.
Vajpeyi told PTI later that he had planned to read seven "chorus", a literary device first associated with Greek theatre in which performers comment on the situation unfolding in a drama.
"A person had contacted me from Rekhta and asked if I would be reading any poems with political connotations. I asked how poetry can be apolitical, so they asked me to refrain from it," the 82-year-old poet said.
"I do not stand for this type of censorship, and that is why I will not be joining," he added.
Vajpeyi, who was chairperson of Lalit Kala Akademi from 2008-2011, was among those who returned their Sahitya Akademi Awards in 2015 to protest the "assault on right to freedom of both life and expression."
Writer Purushottam Agarwal has written in support of Vajpayi and said, "Emergency was an individual dictatorship, but now we are being pushed into ideological dictatorship. Resistance to such dictatorship is a mandatory duty."
Meanwhile, the oragnisers have denied these allegations and added that the festival provides "a neutral stage for speakers and does not play any role in limiting their freedom to speak."
The festival slated to take place on the 25th and 26th of February has invited a number of controversial individuals from the right-wing, who have been called out in the past for making hateful comments, such as filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, sports minister Anurag Thakur, and MP Tejasvi Surya.
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