Kannada writer among 6 to return Akademi awards

Kannada writer among 6 to return Akademi awards

Six more writers, including Kannada litterateur Kum Veerabhadrappa, on Sunday decided to return their Sahitya Akademi Awards in protest against “rising intolerance” and incidents with “communal” overtones.

Kannada writer Aravind Malagatti resigned from the body’s general council, while Kannada translator D N Srinath also announced his decision to return his award in protest against the delay in nabbing the killers of M M Kalburgi.

The others who joined the chorus and returned their awards on Sunday are Punjabi writers Gurbachan Bhullar, Ajmer Singh Aulakh and Atamjit Singh, literary critic Ganesh N Devy from Baroda, and Aman Sethi, author of “A Free Man”.

Sahitya Akademi, meanwhile, is considering convening an emergency meeting of its executive board, with pressure mounting by the day. “We have not taken any final decision on this yet, as the Akademi will have to spend an additional Rs 10-15 lakh in organising this meeting,” Akademi president Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari told Deccan Herald.

Tiwari expressed disappointment over the writers returning their awards, saying such a move was “wrong” and “illogical”.

“Akademi condemns the incident where any writer is killed for his views. What else can we do? They (writers) should adopt some other means to raise the issue. Academy stands for freedom of expression of all writers. But it cannot get into politics. I appeal to the writers’ community to come forward and protect the dignity of the Akademi,” he said.
In Mysuru, Aravind Malagatti expressed displeasure over the way the Akademi reacted to Kalburgi’s murder. In an email to Tiwari, Malagatti said: “I have tendered my resignation in protest of M M Kalburgi’s assassination.”

It was a clear attack on freedom of expression. The Akademi should have protested by issuing a statement opposing this immediately... Kalburgi was an awardee of Sahitya Akademi... Defending the freedom of expression must be Akademi’s priority...”
Writer Kum Veerabhadrappa told reporters in Kottur (Ballari) that the recent incidents in UP also disturbed him. He said it was not right on the part of the Akademi to remain silent over the murders of rationalists.

“May say that your (Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari) moment of reckoning has come? I hope you will give this country the assurance that it is the writers and thinkers who have come forward to rescue sense, goodwill, values, tolerance and mutual respect in the past,” Ganesh N Devy said in his letter to Akademi president, conveying to him his decision to return the award.

He also said the great idea of India was based on a “profound tolerance for diversity and difference”.

Announcing his decision to return the award, Aulakh, Punjabi playwright, said: “It certainly is the first time when a large section of establishment, by keeping mum or issuing politically correct statements, seems to be justifying the violence against the minorities and the intellectuals whose ideas are not in tune with them. My decision to give back the award is not only against the inaction of government, but also against the actions of those who don’t wish to see India as a model country.”

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