Basheer, a former professor of Malayalam at the University of Calicut. Basheer is a practising Muslim but has never been associated with any religious group or platform.
Local newspapers run popular columns on the Ramayana through the Malayalam month of Karkkidakam, which is observed as the “Ramayana month”. Basheer has contributed to such columns in the past. His wrote series of Ramayana in the Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi .
This year he wrote ‘The five Ramayana pieces ‘ which looked at Valmiki’s critique of Rama’s call to Sita to undertake the “agnipariksha”. The articles were more about the brilliance of Valmiki, the poet, and the insights he offers while writing about the human condition.
Soon after Mathrubhumi confirmed that many abusive calls came to the newspaper’s editorial desk asking why the newspaper “got a Muslim to write on the Ramayana”.
Basheer told. “Every day, I would get repeated calls abusing me for writing on the Ramayana. At the age of 75, I was being reduced to just a Muslim. I couldn’t take it and I stopped writing.”
M Kesava Menon, editor of Mathrubhumi, said there has been an obvious sharpening of the communal divide in Kerala because of which there is growing intolerance towards news and views.
“Those who rake up trouble in the name of religious beliefs are fringe groups from within the community. But then the mainstream organisations across communities seem unwilling to criticise them,” Menon said.