Six more authors return Sahitya Akademi awards

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".

Six more authors return Sahitya Akademi awards

New Delhi: Six more authors including Kashmiri writer Ghulam Nabi Khayal, Kannada writer-translator Srinath D N and Rajesh Joshi have decided to return their 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 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. Khayal also joined the bandwagon of authors, saying the minorities in the country today feel "unsafe and threatened".

"In the place of the pen, there are now bullets being fired. Author Kalburgi was murdered and both the Centre and the state should quickly act against the offenders so that such an incident is not repeated in the future," Srinath told PTI.

Srinath had won the 2009 Sahitya Akademi for translating short stories in Hindi written by Bheesham Sahani into Kannada.

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.

"The Sahitya Akademi remains silent about the Kalburgi murder so many dangers our democracy is facing, the very fabric of democracy is under threat."

They said the Akademi should have opposed the killing of Kalburgi openly. "It was the duty of the Akademi to condemn the atmosphere in the country," he said.

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.

Joshi told PTI over phone from Mumbai, "Manglesh Dabral and I made the decision last night and have written to the Akademi chair our decision to return the award."

Joshi said they had sent a joint statement to the Akademi President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari and will soon be returning their prize money too.

"We thought that it is high time that we returned the award. The climate in the country is such that writers are being killed, the freedom of expression is under threat...," Joshi said.

"Besides, the way country's atmosphere is being communalised is not good for the traditin of tolerance for which the nation is known and also for its democracy," he said.

The writer, poet and playwright who recieved the Akademi award in 2002 for his 'Do Panktiyon Ke Beech' (Between Two Lines) said it was unprecedented to have so many writers return their awards.

"Right now the Akademi's executive council has to deliberate on the issue to come up with a provision on what to do with the award money," Joshi said.

Six authors, including Gujarat-based writer Ganesh Devy, announced they were returning their awards, joining ranks with authors Uday Prakash, Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpayei who had earlier given up the honour to protest against the Kalburgi killing and Dadri lynching incident wher a man was kileld by a mob over rumour of beef eating

At least 16 authors have announced their decision to return their Sahitya Akademi awards.

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