Mumbai, March 9 (IANS) National Bravery Award winner Mumbai girl Zen Sadavarte was heckled and virtually hounded off the stage by some Shiv Sena activists at an International Women’s Day event where she was one of the guests, her family said here on Monday.
The programme was organised jointly by Subhash Bhamre Mitra Mandal, Shivraj Pratishthan, Vitthal Chavan Pratishthan, Ganraj Sahakari Patsanstha Ltd. at the Damodar Hall in Parel, late on Sunday.
“Zen was speaking on the problems of poor children in rural areas which affects even Mumbai civic schools when they are deprived of the mid-day meals, and the issue of horizontal reservations for transgenders. That apparently upset the Shiv Sena members on the stage and in the audience who started disturbing the speech and when Zen protested they snatched away the mike,” Advocate Gunratan Sadavarte told IANS.
Among the dignitaries invited were Shiv Sena’s MLC Manisha Kayande and party MLA Yamini Jadhav and other prominent leaders and activists where the ‘Maasaheb Meenatai Thackeray Achievement Awards-2019’ were to be conferred on several women achievers, including Zen.
One of the women organisers came and first whispered something to Zen, she continued speaking, again another lady attempted to stop her, some others standing behind started questioning her points and chaos reigned as one of the women snatched away the mike from Zen’s hand.
The speaker then advised the 12-year-old Zen that she was ‘too young’ to understand many things, she should learn to respect the elders and more experienced people in the gathering, and more importantly, speak in Marathi.
“Its now compulsory to know Marathi here (in the state) and you must speak Marathi since this is a Marathi audience. The people here know what they are doing and their contributions,” the speaker said, abruptly stopping Zen’s speech despite her vehement protests, but later said ‘sorry’ to her.
“They have violated my right to expression. I have the right to speak in English and Hindi, both recognised languages. They had even permitted me to speak in either language as I am not proficient in Marathi,” Zen said later.
Shocked by the humiliating treatment on a public platform where she was invited, Zen boycotted the function and honour, and was escorted by the police from the venue, said Sadavarte.
In January, Zen was given the National Bravery Award by President Kovind and later she shot to limelight for writing to Chief Justice of India S. A. Bobde seeking directives banning children from being taken in civil protests after the death of an infant at the Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi.