National Bravery Award winner Zen Sadavarte on Monday spoke to Republic TV over the Shiv Sena netas criticizing her for not speaking in Marathi at a function and taking the mic away from her. Narrating the incident, she said, "Prior to the event that had happened, the people who came to invite me, I had clearly told them that I cannot speak in Marathi and I will speak in Hindi or in English. They requested me and so I went to the program."
She added, "When I went to the program, there I talked about humanitarian issues that concerned my country like hunger of children-- mid-day meals are not given to children on Saturday and Sunday. I talked about more issues like transgender rights and reservation should be provided for transgenders. I said that you shouldn't be a feminist, you should be a humanist. I don't think I said anything wrong. But what happened is, the audience was very co-operative but when I look at the MLAs and panel which was standing on the stage, they literally started humiliating me. They were literally violating my Article 19 of the Constitution that is right to expression."
The youngster added, "As a student of this country, I have one thing to say-- I appreciated their policies at one point of time. I did. I even talked about what good things they are doing. But when I criticized, I didn't pinpoint that what was wrong, but I told them what should be done. I don't think anyone should say that talking for humanity is wrong. But they literally told me that "If you want to live in India, then you will have to speak in Marathi." I responded to them. Why should I keep quiet when someone is saying this? The Union language is according to Article 343 of the Constitution of India- Hindi and English. And as a National Bravery awardee, I think I have the full right to speak in English and in Hindi."
Speaking about whether the Shiv Sena workers have apologized to her, she said, "No, they tried to justify what they said. I think this is just out of the matter. This is intolerable to have such government speakers, such representatives that lie on stage. The audience was supportive by my side. The audience wanted me to speak. I even spoke in Hindi. Most of them could understand. But, I think only the panel had issues with me."
Responding to Zen's narrative, Shiv Sena MLA Manisha Kayande stated their version of the story. Speaking to the Republic TV, she said, "This is absolutely a false version. This programme was organized by Subhash Damre Mitra Mandal. On March 8, every year, they felicitate local women who are achievers from various fields. Yesterday there were doctors, there were environmentalists, there was a cyclist, there was a gymnast. Even Zen was invited. The organizers wanted to felicitate her."
She added, "Now, Zen has been felicitated at various platforms. And even the Shiv Sena, the locals have promoted her name for various awards. Yesterday when she came up, she insisted that she wanted to speak. So, as a teenager, as a young girl, the organizers allowed her to speak. She started speaking in English, she said that she cannot talk in any other language. But people wanted to listen to her. They were all locals. It was all a Maharashtrian crowd. Naturally, people wanted to understand what she is speaking."
According to the accessed video, as the National Bravery Awardee started her speech in English, one of the alleged Shiv Sena netas snatched the mike from her hand as she was not speaking in Marathi. The leader is further seen saying "The country in which we live in, it is important to speak Marathi. Speaking in Marathi has been made compulsory and this is a Marathi crowd. In Maharashtra, we will always support you. But the most important thing, we should decide what to say in front of which people."