Vice-president of the Sahitya Akademi and writer Chandrashekar Kambar admits there has been “some delay” in the academic body reacting to the killing of scholar M.M. Kalburgi. However, he argues that protest against it need not be expressed by returning awards.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q. What is your reaction to the allegation by litterateurs that the Akademi has not responded to Kalburgi’s murder?
A. I don’t think there has been a delay. President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari asked me to react as soon as he learnt about the murder. Following his direction, we convened a meeting and condemned the killing, and met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. The Chief Minister took a personal initiative in forming eight teams of officers to probe the incident.
But at the national-level, the Akademi has its own limitations. It has to convene an executive committee meeting and discuss it. The Akademi took its time to convene the meeting as the Karnataka government had acted swiftly, and writers were convinced about its actions.
How do you view the resignations of some members of the Akademi’s executive committee, and writers returning awards?
I don’t think there is any reason for writers and members to either resign or return awards. I completely agree with the argument placed by writer Shashi Deshpande. But, I cannot understand why writers are blaming the Akademi when their anger is against the Centre. A panel of literary experts select award winners based on the merit of writer’s work. The Akademi has no role in that. What is the point in returning the award? We should not hit the wrong target.
Are you confident that the Akademi will stand for writers’ freedom of expression?
Of course, the Akademi has a history of registering its discontent, whenever there was threat to freedom of expression. Even now, it will be in the forefront to register its protest on the heinous murder of Kalburgi. The resolution passed by the executive committee will have more impact than an individual writer’s decision, as it is a statement by the country’s supreme literary body.
In what other way can a writer register his anger when the Akademi is taking shelter under norms?
They have every possibility to register their protest through their medium. For me, writing is the best way to take on dictatorial and divisive forces. I am totally convinced of having done whatever is possible in my limitations as vice-president of the Akademi and as a writer.