Ashok Vajpeyi returns Akademi award

Ashok Vajpeyi returns Akademi award

After eminent writer Nayantara Sahgal, former civil servant and noted Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi has returned his Sahitya Akademi Award in protest against rising “assault on the right to freedom of both life and expression”.

“I have decided to return the award in protest against the emergence of forces assaulting the liberal space and values of plurality in the name of India tradition with tacit political support and political parties in power over last one year. It’s an alarming situation. Intellectuals are being murdered and perpetrators are not being apprehended,” he told Deccan Herald on Wednesday.

He also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ “silence” over the recent killing of Sahitya Akademi Award winner M M Kalburgi in Karnataka as well as murder of Mohammed Akhtaq in Dadri.

“Why our Prime Minister, who is so vocal even on minor issues, is keeping quiet on these incidents. Why he is allowing his ministers to make objectionable statements?” he asked.
“On the issue of renaming of Aurangzeb Road in Delhi to APJ Abdul Kalam road, the Union Culture Minister (Mahesh Sharma) said Kalam was a great nationalist despite being a Muslim. How come a minister can make such a statement which belittles the multi-cultural and multi-religious fabric of the country,” he added.

Seventy-four-year-old Vajpeyi, who served as Union Culture Ministry Secretary and also held the post of Lalitkala Academy’s chairperson in past, said he wrote a letter to the Sahitya Akademi on Tuesday to apprise the organisation of his decision to return the award.“I am returning Sahitya Akademi Award. My decision is final and unchangeable. We cannot remain just a mute spectator,” he added.

Vajpeyi, who authored over 20 books of poetry, criticism and art and was felicitated with the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1994 for his poetry collection, ‘Kahin Nahin Wahin’, also lashed out at the Akademi.

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