Reacting strongly to veteran actor-director Amol Palekar being interrupted during a speech at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Mumbai when he criticised the government and was prevented from completing his speech, multiple award-winning author Nayantara Sahgal has said that the country is not facing intolerance anymore but is under outright dictatorship.
"It's becoming a habit of this government to stop people from speaking freely. It's not intolerance anymore, it is outright dictatorship. We have all seen how the Modi government has treated the creative imagination.
"They are not comfortable with it because they cannot control free thinking, they can only ban and prevent people from speaking," Sahgal, a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family, who was highly critical of the policies of Indira Gandhi during Emergency, told IANS over telephone from Dehradun, where she resides.
"This is exactly how a dictatorship behaves. The first target is always the creative imagination. This government is behaving exactly like Hitler's Germany," she said.
She highlighted that just days before Palekar being snubbed and interrupted repeatedly at a function for which he was invited, an invitation to inaugurate a literary festival to herself was revoked at the last moment.
"We are not going to allow this to continue and more and more people are determined to come forward and speak their minds out," she said.
Sahgal, along with a host of leading literary stalwarts, had returned her Sahitya Akademi Award in 2015 to protest against rising intolerance in the country.
Incidentally, her upcoming novel "The Fate of Butterflies", slated to release on February 27, is billed as "a superbly told tale that is close to all that is happening in our country".
(Saket Suman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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