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Gujarat Sahitya Academy chief criticises poem targeting Centre, PM Modi over COVID-19 crisis

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A poem written by Amreli-based poetess Parul Khakhar that criticises the Union government for the mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic has been criticised by Gujarat Sahitya Academy chairman Vishnu Pandya.

The poem, “Shav Vahini Ganga”, has become immensely popular and translated into many languages. It has been attacked by Pandya in an editorial saying that the work is being misused by “liberals, communists and literary Naxals” to spread “anarchy” in the country. Notably, the Academy is a state government-controlled body.

Over 160 literary personalities in Gujarat have supported the poetess and the poem, demanding that the Academy chief should withdraw the editorial criticisng the literary work. These include Mallika Sarabhai, Gulammohammad Sheikh, MLA Jignesh Mevani, Ghanshyam Shah, Indira Hirway, Nirjhari Sinha and Mehul Devkala.

Shav Vahini Ganga

Shared widely on social media, Khakhar’s poem “Shav Vahini Ganga” (corpse-carrying Ganga) criticises the Centre over its handling of the pandemic by referring to the bodies of COVID-19 victims floating in the river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar at the peak of the second wave.

Criticism

In an editorial in the June edition of the Academy’s official publication “Shabdashrushti”, Pandya has criticised the poem without specifically naming it. The article was titled “No, this is not a poem, it is a misuse of a poem for anarchy”.

“Many have praised this poem. But this piece cannot be considered a poem at all. That was just pointless anger, jugglery of words, defaming Indian people, democracy and society. How can you call this a poem?” Pandya wrote. He further pointed out that the poem has been misused by people who are anti-Centre and are against its nationalist ideologies.

The poem has been used as a “shoulder to fire from” by those elements, he said.

“Communists and those so-called liberals want to create anarchy in the country. They are active in all fields and also jumped into literature with malicious intentions. These literary Naxals want to influence those unsuspecting people who would relate their personal grief with this poem,” Pandya stated.

He further said the Academy can never agree with what has been written in the poem and said some elements had turned the work into a “weapon to tear apart the social fabric”.

 

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