Punjabi Literature Festival strains Indo-Pak ties

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The Vishwa Punjabi Sahitya Sammelan, Pune, (literature festival) being organised by city-based organisation Sarhad with the support of the Maharashtra government and that of Punjab, might have stirred up Indo-Pak relations.

The festival is set to kick start in November this year, however, it won’t see participation from Punjabi litterateur’s from Pakistan. Which has strained the relations between the two countries.

The organisation had also written to the authorities concerned in the capital, including the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), informing them about the event. “We had got a good response from the PMO also. However, considering the current Indo-Pak relations, we decided to go ahead with the festival without Pakistan’s participation, although we would have loved to host Pakistani writers and poets at the festival.” says Nahar, adding that the decision was taken after discussion with the chief patron of the festival and NCP president Sharad Pawar.

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When speaking of Punjabi literature, its only natural to include Pakistani writers and their contributions.

In April 2015, Sarhad had organised Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (All India Marathi Literary Conference) at Ghuman in Punjab where Pawar and Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, had announced the World Punjabi Literature Festival to mark 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.

“The two states, Maharashtra and Punjab, have a strong and special connection. While Sant Namdeo, a famous poet-saint from Maharashtra, spent considerable time at Ghuman, a place that houses his shrine, prophet-guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh, spent last days of his life at Nanded in Maharashtra,” says Nahar, adding that the three-day festival at Ghuman saw participation of nearly 7,000 poets and writers from across Maharashtra and almost 20,000 from Punjab.