The three-day Dhaka Lit Fest, the preeminent international literary congregation of the country, ended yesterday amid hopes that liberal thoughts and ideas will thrive further in South Asia.
At the closing plenary, writers, politician and journalists said that the society had been passing a critical time where there is aggression on thoughts.
The session titled “Is there any future for Liberalism in South Asia?” was moderated by journalist Victor Mallet. Indian writers Nayantara Sahgal and Kiran Nagarkar, Bangladeshi lawmaker Kazi Nabil Ahmed and Nepalese writer Bikash Sangraula spoke at the session.
Kazi Nabil Ahmed said that the challenges that the country was facing now exist throughout the world. “Freedom of expression is in danger here in Bangladesh too.”
The evil forces that were defeated in 1971 are now killing writers and bloggers and threating intellectuals in collaboration with miscreants from outside, the parliamentarian said.
But the government’s initiatives are not enough; people should come forward in fighting the aggression against thoughts, he said.
Nayantara Sahgal said: “Our [Indian] present government is trying to destroy Nehru’s legacy. All Hindus are disturbed by the present government as they are trying to turn this state into a Hindu State.
“I believe, from north to south, east to west, there are vast diversities of languages, cultures. What differences can you get is India – this is the meaning of India. It is the fact of history,” she said in response to a question from the audience.
Kiran Nagarkar criticised the Indian government and its activities against the majority of people. “There is only one God. That is life,” he said while speaking at the closing session.
Echoing Kiran, Bikas Sangraula focused on the issues centring the practice of liberalism in Nepal.
Before the closing plenary, festival director Sadaf Saaz thanked all the writers from home and abroad, the festival host and the audience.
The concluding day of the festival began with the screening of “India’s Daughter” by Leslee Udwin at the Main Stage, while the Bhasha Stage hosted a discussion on genre fiction by three authors and its wide appeal.
At 10:40am, the Main Stage hosted a vibrant conversation between writer and DLF director Ahsan Akbar and noted international journalist Jon Snow.
Snow shared his wide range of experience in journalism over the last three decades. “There are problems with the ownership of media but journalists have options in which way they can reach to people with information.
Terming his visit to Bangladesh stunning, Snow ended by saying: “Together we could make a difference.”