Lucknow: The fifth edition of the Lucknow Literary Festival was abruptly called off within two hours when a group of activists from ABVP and Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) disrupted a session in which former JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar was the main speaker.
The incident took place on Friday night and hours later, the district administration cancelled the event, saying that necessary permissions were not taken.
The literary festival focused on the theme of ‘Literature, Politics and We’ and Kanhaiya Kumar was there to talk about his book Bihar se Tihar Tak.
As soon as Mr Kumar began speaking, the ABVP and HYV activists began jeering and hooting, calling him a traitor of the nation, raising anti-Kanhaiya Kumar slogans.
A scuffle took place between ABVP-HYV and SP student wing members when the former made an abortive bid to reach the stage at the function organised at Sheroes Cafe.
Finally, the organisers and acid victims working at the cafe appealed to agitated ABVP and HYV workers to let the function continue.
The police was called in to control the situation. Later, speaking on the occasion, Mr Kumar said, “You have governments in 18 states but you cannot suppress an independent voice or stop someone to express his thoughts. I belong to a family of freedom fighter and no one can stop me expressing my thoughts”.
He said, “I am ready to face bullets but will not stop opposing those taking the country to a wrong direction”.
Mr Kumar pulled up the state government when he said, “Smile that you are in Lucknow under Yogi Adityanath’s Ram Rajya. In ‘Satyug’, Lord Ram had left for vanvas but in Kalyug, Yogiji has left vanvas to rule Uttar Pradesh”, he chuckled.
To ridicule ABVP, the former JNU president offered his condolences to the RSS worker died in a blast allegedly while making bombs.
“I offer my condolences to children who died at the BRD Medical College and also for the RSS worker who died while making bombs”, he said. After him, BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha was called in to discuss his biography Anything But Khamosh written by Bharti S. Pradhan.
Mr Sinha, in his inimitable style, once again slammed his own government on issues related to GST, demonetisation and unemployment.
He said that the essence of democracy lay in the fact that voices of dissent could be heard. Organiser Shamim A. Arzoo said that the district administration was trying to control the thoughts of the speakers.