news Wednesday, March 04, 2015 - 05:30
Sameera Ahmed | The News Minute | March 4, 2015 | 05.20 pm IST “I am not able to sleep. I’m scared all the time,” says Puliyur Murugesan, a writer facing the wrath of an entire community in a scenario reminiscent of that which occurred with ostracised Tamil writer Perumal Murugan. Currently holed up in a room at the Karur government hospital nursing head injuries sustained after an attack by at least 25 men, Murugesan, is now under police protection, though the police has booked him under four sections of the IPC including obscenity and provocation. In December 2014, the 45 year-old Puliyur Murugesan had released a collection of his short stories titled Balachandran Enroru Peyarum Enaku Undu (Balachandran is also one of my names). Of the 13 short stories in the 205 page book; one of them depicted an incestual relationship between a father- in-law and his transgender son’s wife - a story based on a family in Karur’s dominant Gounder community. However, according to Murugesan, protests against the book originally sparked off because of a very close friend of his. “ I gave copies of the book to lots of people. I also gave it to Sivaswami, the assistant headmaster at the Rani Meyammai Higher Secondary School. He was a very close friend of mine.” Not only did the headmaster criticise the book, he also made xerox copies of the incest plot in the book and distributed it amongst many in the community. This was not the first instance of a close friend turning against him, as even many in the group who attacked him later on were acquaintances. What was wrong in what I wrote? asked Murugesan. “ Its the story of a transgender. It was a fictional story about how they are. I wrote it as if they belonged to a community and how they are sexually harassed , and all the violent sex they are forced to tolerate” However, it is not as much the sexual violence depicted in the book that there is furore about, but more so the reference to the dominant community in the region - the Goundars. "I knew at least six persons who attacked me, I gave their names to the police. But not a single person has been arrested," he said. The Perumal Murugan connection When Perumal Murugan was in the centre of controversy over his book, protests and bandhs forced him into issuing a public unconditional apology. However, according to Murugesan, the cases are different as it did not involve the caste factor. “Perumal Murugan is a Gounder. That’s why they did not hit him. I am from the Nadar community ,” he said. The Nadars are a powerful community in south Tamil Nadu. “There is more affection on caste by these people. They think that our caste is higher. Nobody should disturb this. That is how every higher caste is thinking”, he said. Do I write about cookery? "My story depicted that of a transgender being sexually abused and the turmoil within his family. When the transgender husband discovers the relationship between his father and his wife, he murders his own father," said Murugesan. Violence at home is no new scenario in India. Last year, the National Crime Records Bureau’s report for 2013 found that 94 percent of the total 33707 rapes in India that year had been by people known to the victims. “One can never say that their family is clean and pure,” said Murugesan espousing the point that his story of sexual violence at home was not something uncommon in society. “The maximum violence in such cases has been against children first, then transgenders and then women,” he said. "Everyone knows these statistics but they have no real shock value. If there is no shock value, what is the point of writing a story. People are not shocked by isolated statistics.“ he said. “I am a fictional writer. We write stories to shock society by weaving in what is happening in society such as issues relating to caste and religion,” he pointed out. “ Should I write about cookery instead?,” he mocked. After the attack in which Murugesan was injured, he filed a case against six people he could identify . “Selvaraj, Velusamy, Munusamy Thambi, Mahesh, Kanakaraj were the ones I identified, “ said Murugesan as he rattled off some of the names of people who had been part of the attack on him. “There were some 14 to 15 other people who I didn't recognise,” he said. Murugesan felt that those protesting did not understand what they were protesting against. “ They asked me when they abducted me - Do we look like transgenders to you? That is not at all what I meant. They are twisting words and talking,” he said. The writer however believed that no writer ever wrote anything with the intention of hurting someone individually or as a community. “ There was no intention to hurt them,” he said. "Around 1200 copies of the story in the book were taken and distributed . People were told that the book had written badly about them and their community", he said. We cannot stay here Murugesan now fears not just for his life, but for his 12 year old and six year old children who have been kept away from school ever since the protests began. Both wife and kids have now fled to their village in Karur fearing further protests from the local dominant community. “My head is injured and heavy. I'm scared all the time. We are scared to send the kids to school because it is their (Gounder) community there fully. How am I supposed to take care of them there? ”he said sounding like a man devoid of hope. The helplessness in him was in display as Murugesan revealed that he was aware that he would not be allowed to stay in Karur any longer . My time is up, he said. “ Surely, it will happen. Even if they give(us) a lot of police protection we cannot stay here. If we write anything here , we will have to leave. It’s a village…” he said, his voice trailing. While Murugesan has filed a petition for anticipatory bail in the district session court, a complaint under four sections of the IPC - Section 153 (wantonly provocating riot) , 292 (writing book with obscene content), 504 (intentional provocation of breach of peace) , 505(ii)causing fear or alarm to public) currently hold against him. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute
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