The 12th Akhil Bhartiya Muslim Marathi Sahitya Sammelan [All India Muslim-Marathi Muslim Literary Conference] which began at Azam Campus on Friday [January 4, 2019], saw protests against Ahmadiyya writer Basharat Ahmed’s talk which was cancelled following the protest. Ahmed was scheduled to speak at the literary meet.
Slogans were raised outside the assembly hall of the Azam Campus after the Friday prayers, demanding that writer Basharat Ahmed from Usmanabad should not be allowed to speak at the event. The crowds alleged that his views were heretical and critical of the Muslim faith, which the writer denied.
Crowds gathered immediately after the Friday prayers even as the Cantonment police were on standby since morning. The event was being hosted by Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education (MCE) Society’s Azam Campus led by educationist P A Inamdar, in association with Muslim Marathi Sahitya Sanskrutik Mandal.
While no case was registered, the Cantonment police maintained that community members were opposed to the writer. The crowd dispersed after lodging its protest with members saying that they had no objection to other speakers and the content of the programme.
The event organisers said the Basharat Ahmed’s talk had been cancelled at the event where people of all divergent ideologies were invited to speak during the three day lit fest.
Police Inspector Chandrakant Bhosale said, “We have put up a notice under section 149 inside the campus.The Muslim community members had an objection to the speech of Ahmed and they voiced their protest. The organisers have told them that Ahmed’s speech has been cancelled. The entire protest ended peacefully and we have not registered a case.”
Azim Shaikh, conference co-ordinator of Azam Campus said “ Basharat Ahmed has been associated with the Muslim Sahitya Parishad for the past 25 years and has published a number of books. He has decided to stay away from the conference owing to the protests,” he said.
Zahed Bhai, who led the protests said “Basharat Ahmed speaks against Islamic faith and his speech would have hurt the sentiments of the community. We had informed the police much earlier and had given a complaint about it. The organisers should not have invited a controversial person like Ahmed for the literary conference. However, they have been co-operative and told us that his talk has been cancelled.”
Basharat Ahmed strongly refuted the allegations and said, “I belong to the Ahmadiyya sect which is officially recognised as non-Muslims in Pakistan. The protestors want the same rule to be applied here in Pune. They want me to keep away from conference. I am the founder member of the Akhil Bhartiya Muslim Marathi Sammelan. I deny all the allegations made against me as I am a religious person. I was informed by the organising team and even the police that it would be advisable to stay away from the event. In fact I wanted to attend the entire conference.”
A number of prominent scholars like A H Salunke , Shaikh Iqbal Minne, Aleem Vakil, Vishwanath Karad, Pune mayor Mukta Tilak, state minister Girish Bapat, Admiral (retd ) Nizam Nadaf, Muslim Rashtriya Manch city unit president Latif Magdum , Saleem Chisti and others spoke on the first day of the literary meet.