Mumbai: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said litterateurs were free to criticise the government and appealed the writers to take back the awards they had returned to the state government in protest against the "culture of intolerance" in the country.
Last week, eight writers had approached the state government to return their awards.
"We respect the writers, who have returned their awards. But nothing can be achieved in doing so," Fadnavis said at 'Meet the Press' programme organised by Mantralaya and Vidhimandal Vartahar Sangh here on the completion of one year of his government in the state.
"They (writers) are free to criticise the government if something wrong is happening. They hold a mirror to the society through their writings. They inspire the society through their writings. If they return their awards, they achieve nothing. We appeal to them to take back the awards and are ready to restore the honour again," he added.
Fadnavis said litterateurs enjoyed complete freedom of speech and expression in the state. "Art and culture has ample scope to flourish in Maharashtra," he said.
Sambhaji Bhagat, Pradnya Pawar, Yeshu Patil, Urmila Pawar, Mukund Kule, Vasant Patankar, Milind Malshe, Harishchandra Thorat and Ganesh Vispute had returned their state-awarded honours.
They joined writers in different parts of the country to protest against the "climate of intolerance" in the country.