In the wake of Dadri lynching case and rising cases of intolerance in Indian society, many noted writers have expressed their protest and returned their Sahitya Akademi literary awards.
Kashmiri writer Ghulam Nabi Khayal, noted Gujarati poet Anil Joshi, Kannada writer Rahamath Tarikere and five writers from Punjab — Surjit Patar, Chaman Lal, Baldev Singh Sadaknama, Jaswinder and Darshan Buttar — on Monday joined the list of writers who have decided to return their Sahitya Akademi awards, taking the total number to 23.
Besides, two Kannada writers, G N Ranganatha Rao and D N Srinath, returned Sahitya Akademi prizes for translation while theatre artist Maya Krishna Rao returned her Sangeet Natak Akademi award.
“What is happening in India pains me. To return an award is the only way to express my resentment… As a person, I want to live in a country that is secular, not one where freedom of speech and many religious identities is facing threat from communal forces,” said Khayal, who got the Akademi award in 1975.
Meanwhile, cultural minister Mahesh Sharma Speaking to The Indian Express said:
This is an award given by writers to writers. It has nothing to do with the government. It is their personal choice to return it… we accept it.
Even the noted writer and Booker winner Salman Rushdie expressed solidarity with the writers and tweeted: “I support # Nayantara Sahgal and many other writers protesting to the Sahitya Akademi. Alarming times for free expression in India.”
This whole episode started when a 50-year-old Iqlakh was dragged out of his home by a 200-strong mob and beaten to death after a public announcement from the local temple that the family had slaughtered a calf and eaten its meat in Uttar Pradesh’s Bishada village in Dadri.
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