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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Talk by film-maker, gay rights activist Onir at Bhopal Lit Fest cancelled over fear of protests

'Shocked and Sad that an event I was really looking forward to speaking at had to drop me'

PTI Bhopal Published 14.01.23, 01:20 PM
Onir Dhar

Onir Dhar File image

A talk on LGBTQ issues by film-maker and gay rights activist Onir Dhar at the ongoing Bhopal Lit Fest (BLF) here was cancelled as a group threatened to stage a protest, a member of the organizing team said on Saturday.

They were told by "government sources" that security issues could arise due to Dhar's presence, said writer-journalist Abhilash Khandekar, a member of the organising committee.

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"It is obvious that any author should be sad in such a situation, but we were told by government sources that they do not want this kind of author (Dhar) in Bharat Bhawan due to security reasons as it may ruin the event,” he told PTI.

The BLF started at Bharat Bhawan, a government-owned arts complex here, on Friday. Dhar was scheduled to speak on the opening day.

Earlier, Dhar, the maker of the acclaimed film "My Brother...Nikhil", took to Twitter to break the news.

“Shocked and Sad that an event I was really looking forward to speaking at had to drop me. Apparently, there was a group threatening protest and violence and the police told the organisers that they cannot guarantee my safety. So, they cancelled the event. Let me process this...," he said in a tweet.

Khandekar said they thought it better to cancel his session rather than cancelling the entire festival.

“We respect freedom of speech. Therefore, we had invited Onir Dhar to the BLF. Even RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has recently spoken on the LGBTQ issue. The Lit Fest organised by the Centre in Shimla last year also had sessions on this subject,” he said.

“So, when we were told that a question of his safety and security can arise in Bhopal, we requested Dhar (about agreeing to cancellation). Someone suggested that police can be called, but we believe police should not be there in a literature festival...," Khandekar added.

The organizers want to put Bhopal on the country's literary map, he said.

The Ministry of External Affairs has supported the BLF -- organized by a private group -- officially, Khandekar added.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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