Kashmiri Writers Disappointed At Litfest Cancellation1 September 2011
Times of India
New Delhi: Several Kashmiri writers have expressed disappointment over the cancellation of the much-anticipated Harud literature festival in Srinagar. Twitter users have also registered their protest on the microblogging site. Srinagar-based poet Naseem Shafaie feels that the festival offered a good opportunity for those writing in Dogri, Ladakhi and Kashmiri to display their talent. 'I was looking forward to hear what writers from these regions think in today's time, especially since we don't get to read them in Kashmir. It's an opportunity lost for them,' says Shafaie, whose first collection of poetry, Derche Machrith (Open Windows), was much appreciated. Expressing disappointment over the cancellation of the litfest which was scheduled to be held next month, another Srinagar-based author and academic Neerja Mattoo said that 'If Waheed Mirza (The Collaborator) and Sanjay Kak (Until my freedom has come) could release their books in Srinagar, surely those who write in Kashmiri, Dogri and Ladakhi should have had the freedom to showcase their literary talent before writers of international repute. That they have been deprived of this opportunity is a shame.' Mattoo has translated and put together several collections of short stories by other Kashmiri writers. One of them is called, The Stranger Beside Me. Srinagar-based writer Zareef Ahmed Zareef was also looking forward to participating in the festival. 'I was looking forward to the festival. Unfortunately, everything in Kashmir gets politicised. Its sad,' said Zareef, who has even written a naz on harud (autumn in Kashmiri). Prominent writers and common people have tweeted their reactions on twitter. Wrote RajaMuneeb: 'So Harud Litfest has been called off. Wonder who won out of this collective loss! Sigh.' Panzer_King_83 said, 'Sad indeed. Would have been a great showcase for the state.' Columnist and writer Shobhaa De tweeted: 'Was looking forward to Harud Lit Fest in Kashmir Valley. Disappointed organisers cancelled. Wrong signal!. She tweeted again: 'Is free speech in the Valley sole prerogative of militants? Harud Lit Fest surrendered to bullies. Victory of narrow mindedness and prejudice.' Chetan Bhagat also expressed his disappointment at the cancellation. He tweeted: 'Was looking forward to meeting my Kashmiri readers at Harud litfest, Srinagar. Heard fest is postponed due to voices against litfest. Sad.'