Continuing their protests against “rising intolerance” and “communal” atmosphere in the country, noted writers on Sunday announced returning of their awards.
Two writers from Karnataka, a renowned literary critic from Gujarat, 3 writers from Punjab and a Delhi-based author said they were returning Sahitya Akademi awards.
Writers protest ‘silence’ of Akademi, return awards
The trend of noted writers resigning from official posts and returning literary honours in protest against the killing of scholar M.M. Kalburgi and other rationalists is continuing.
In Karnataka, writer Arvind Malagatti announced his resignation from the general council of the Central Sahitya Akademi in protest against the killing of scholar M.M. Kalburgi and other rationalists. Novelist Kumvee (Kumbar Veerabhadrappa) and translator D.N. Srinath said they would return the Akademi awards.
In Gujarat, renowned literary critic and author G.N. Devy has returned his award. In Punjab, three eminent writers announced returning of awards.
These writers have joined the ranks of Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpeyi and Shashi Deshpande, who have already resorted to similar measures to protest the alleged “silence” of the Akademi over such killings.
Dr. Malagatti said the silence would be construed as acquiescence and it should not be perceived as such. “Kalburgi himself was a former member of the Akademi and hence a strongly worded statement should have been issued by the president considering his contribution to the literary world,” he felt.
Mr. Veerabhadrappa, a well-known novelist from Kottur in Ballari district, said, “It is a matter of grave concern that rationalists and writers are being killed and so far the law enforcing agencies have failed to trace the perpetrators of the crime.”
Mr. Srinath, who got the award in 2009 for translating into Kannada the short stories authored by Hindi writer Bheesham Sahani, said he would return the award in two days.
Prof. Devy has returned the award presented to him in 1993 in recognition of his book After Amnesia, a path-breaking analysis of literary criticism in India.
“I also feel the pain at increasing intolerance and shrinking space for dissent and free expression in the country,” Prof. Devy told The Hindu .
Delhi-based Aman Sethi said he too was returning the Sahitya award he got in 2012, as the “spirit of inquiry is clearly under threat.” In Punjab, eminent writers Gurbachan Bhullar, Ajmer Singh Aulakh and Atamjit Singh said they were returning their Sahitya Akademi awards demanding that the Akademi speak out against the killing of rationalists.
Noted Kashmiri writer and >poet Ghulam Nabi Khayal has joined the bandwagon of authors returning their Sahitya Akademi awards, saying the minorities in the country today feel “unsafe and threatened”.
Hindi poet and writer Rajesh Joshi, has decided to return his Sahitya Akademi awards under the spiralling protest by litterateurs against “communal” atmosphere and “rising intolerance” following rationalist M M Kalburgi’s killing.
Hindi writers Mangalesh Dabral and Rajesh Joshi along with Mr. Srinath today said they will return their prestigious Sahitya Akademi awards while Waryam Sandhu and G N Ranganatha Rao intimated the Akademi of their decision. In their joint statement protesting the “silence” of the Akademi over the Kalburgi murder, writers Dabral and Joshi said, “For the past one year or so basic values of democracy freeedom of expression, freedom to live our lives according to our wishes are under attack by the forces of Hindutva, which is not acceptable.
When contacted Akademi officials said they were yet to recieve intimations of the writers returning the awards.
“Apart from writers Uday Prakash, GN Devy, Aman Sethi, Waryam Sandhu and translator G N Ranganatha Rao, we have not got any intimations about the writers returning their awards,” an official said.