As the 43rd annual Chennai Book Fair got underway this month, vendors reported that books related to the LTTE and Eelam Tamils were still in high demand, despite opposition from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
A number of books emblazoned with the image of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran were evident throughout a number of stalls, whilst vendors continued to have books on the genocide in Sri Lanka and the Tamil Eelam struggle.
K Bhoopathi, a publisher at the fair, told the Times of India that he had stocked about 40 to 50 titles equating to nearly 1,000 books on the issue alone. The publisher stated that the topic had been one of unwavering interest over the year at the annual 12-day event organised by the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI).
However, this year there was controversy after the reported arrest of a journalist for selling a book that spoke about the Tamil Nadu government’s alleged corruption.
"If it is so the organizers should not allow the sale of books on the Banned Organisation LTTE and Prabakaran, and ask the concerned Shops to vacate with immediate effect (sic),” tweeted BJP spokesperson Naryanan Thirupathy.
“The idea of ban is a challenge to the intellect,” wrote Kavitha Muralidharan on the incidents. “A ban vitiates free thought – an idea universally central to creativity. Why writers and artists across the world have actively resisted the idea of ban or even censorship.”
“One can only hope that BAPASI and its leadership will still fight it out, and let its rich legacy flourish, just as it did when it let writer Su Venkatesan (also a CPI(M) MP) go on stage and instead of delivering a speech on a topic assigned to him, condemned the BAPASI’s act and demanded that it set things right. The simple act of defiance is deeply reflective of the spirit of the Chennai Book Fair – something that the writers and readers will continue to cherish and celebrate.”