Perumal Murugan: an update

Last year, I wrote a post highlighting the plight of Indian author Perumal Murugan, who had been deemed to have committed that gravest of crimes, “hurting religious sentiments”, and who had been compelled, as a consequence, to announce that he would henceforth desist from hurting religious sentiments further by the simple expedient of ending his literary career.

Well, there’s some good news on this front. The Madras High Court recently quashed a criminal case against Murugan; dismissed a plea moved by residents of his home town to initiate further criminal action against him; and held that Murugan’s public promise to write no more is not legally binding.

All of this is most welcome, of course, and a good reason for rejoicing. But it remains nothing short of a national scandal that, in a free and democratic  country, an author could end up in court in the first place for “hurting sentiments”. And I wish I had confidence that Mr Murugan will not be further harassed by those whose sentiments have been so badly hurt.


9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Shonti Mukherjes on July 5, 2016 at 11:05 am

    As you have hinted, few of these objectors are offended. They are mostly bloodthirsty and want to reclaim sturdy values. So little of what is written or drawn or spoken is actually damaging to anyone with real faith in god.


  2. Posted by Shonti Mukherjes on July 5, 2016 at 11:12 am


    Many artisans all over the world are becoming inhibited by having to try to create under protective shells.

    We continue relentlessy ti worsen ourselves….


  3. Posted by Janet on July 5, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    That is great news, at least on the judicial front. I hope Mr. Murugan is able to return to writing.


    • Yes, I naturally hope so too. But the fact that this happened in the first, place, and had even to go to court, indicates the precaious position of freedom of expression. It is all very worrying.


  4. Posted by mudpuddle on July 5, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    if i knew where there was a “free and democratic country”, i’d move there… it’s seemed to me human behavior is everywhere about the same, regardless of varying governmental differences…


    • “Free” and “democratic” are obviously relative terms, and some countries are obviously more free and more democratic than others. But even in these more free and more democratic countries, there are forces that act against freedom and democracy, and we do need to be vigilant.


  5. Not far wrong, mudpuddle; at least I fear so in my darker moments. Or as Vidal’s grandfather, Senator TP Gore put it: ‘If there was a race other than the human race I’d join it.’

    I hadn’t actually heard of this. Many thanks for highlighting it.


    • What a shame that something such as this had to come to court in the first place! But the way things are, I would guess that Mr Murugan hasn’t heard the end of this affair, and that there are and will be other writers similarly harassed. It’s an ongoing battle, I fear, and the least book bloggers can do, I guess, is to highlight cases such as these.


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