ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Draupadi’s Travels and Travails

Mahasweta Devi’s play Draupadi is an explicit challenge to a vision of statehood that a particular form of socially conservative patriarchal nationalism has long sought to claim. Placing itself within the narratives of exploitation of the lives in the margin and inverting the common practice of shaming and disciplining, this story inverts nakedness into a tool of defiance and resistance. 

On 21 September 2016, Draupadi, an adaptation of the translation of Mahasweta Devi’s short story by the same name was staged as a play by the students of the Department of English and Foreign Languages, Central University of Haryana in a function commemorating her recent death. The story itself was already a part of the readings for the students and the play had the full support of the university administration.

On 22 September, an aggressive hate campaign was organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which mobilised local families of army personnel to protest against showing Indian soldiers in poor light in the play. The academics and students were accused of “anti-national” activities. The university gave in to external pressures and distanced themselves from the two teachers responsible for the event, to allow an Intelligence Bureau enquiry against them.

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