Speaking at the Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LifFest here Friday, Karnad surprised the audience by questioning the lifetime achievement award conferred on Naipaul on account of his (Naipaul) anti-Muslim remarks.
Karnad had said: "When it comes to an Indian award given to an author of Indian descent in India, should not his irresponsible remarks (about Muslims) also be considered?"
Naipaul has been criticised for referring to the Muslim community as "a bunch of raiders and marauders" and Karnad referred to some of his writings to justify his point.
Naipaul's friend and author Farookh Dhondy dismissed Karnad's remarks saying it appeared "like a courtroom where the prosecution was allowed to make points but the defence was silenced".
"Naipaul has never expressed views about the religion or any animosity towards Muslims," Dhondy said.
He said that Naipaul's wife Nadira is a Pakistani and his other family members also belong to the Muslim community.
Anil Dharker, director of the LitFest, also sided with Naipaul.
"The award has been conferred for a body of works and not for a select few remarks," Dharker said.
However, many in the audience supported Karnad though some were angry at not being allowed to present an opposing viewpoint.
Referring to the fall of Vijayanagar empire, Karnad said that while history tells a totally different story, Naipaul has written in his book "India: A Wounded Civilisation" that Hampi pertained to "vibrant Muslims destroying decadent Hindus, which is a generalisation and simplification of the events to fit into his thinking".
The LifFest opened Oct 31 and will go on till Nov 4.