Joining ranks with Nayantara Sahgal and Ashok Vajpeyi who have returned their Sahithya Akademi awards to protest against ‘the rising tide of intolerance in the country’, noted Malayalam writers have also announced their decision to quit their positions in the Akademi and return their awards.
Leading the movement, leading feminist writer Sara Joseph announced in Thrissur that she would return the Sahitya Akademi award that she would return the award the Rs. 50,000 purse that she had received in 2003 for her novel Alaahayude Penmakkal. “The tide of intolerance has risen to such a level that individuals do not have the freedom to eat what they like or to love a person of their choice,” she said while announcing her decision to return the awards.
Former Akademi secretary and poet K. Satchidanandan announced his decision to resign his membership in all committees of the Akademi as the Akademi has ‘failed in its duty to stand with the writers and to uphold freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution’. Mr. Satchidanandan had earlier written to the Akademi to adopt a resolution condemning the killing of Kannada writer M.M. Kalburgi. “Holding a ritual condolence meeting in a regional office, as the Akademi seems to have done, is hardly an adequate response to the recent attacks on the freedom of expression followed by a series murders of independent thinkers in different parts of the country,” Mr. Satchidanandan said in his letter to the Akademi communicating his decision to quit the positions in Akademi committees.
Subhash Chandran, who had won the Sahitya Akademi award last year for his novel Manushyanu Oru Aamukham, told a TV channel that he was also thinking in terms of returning the award and would take a decision in a day or two. Short story writer P.K. Parakkadavu, member of the Sahitya Akademi general council, said he is resigning his membership in the council with immediate effect.
Literary critic K.S. Ravikumar, member of the General Council, has also resigned.
Here's his statement:
I am sorry to observe that the Akademi has failed in its duty to stand with the writers and to uphold the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India that seems to be getting violated every day in the country. Holding a ritual condolence meeting in a regional office, as the Akademi seems to have done, is hardly an adequate response to the recent attacks on the freedom of expression followed by a series of murders of independent thinkers in different parts of the country. I am sorry to find that you think this is a political issue while to writers like me it is an issue of our basic freedom to live , think and write . Annihilation should never be allowed to replace argument that is the very essence of democracy.
I thank the Akademi for all that it has given me in response to the many years of service I have given it; but as a concerned citizen and writer my conscience does not permit me to continue on its General Council and its Executive Board. I hereby abdicate all my positions in the Sahitya Akademi including the membership of its several committees.
With warm personal regards,
Sd/ Prof K. Satchidanandan