Can't stop one's views, but returning award wrong move: Sharma

Can't stop one's views, but returning award wrong move: Sharma

Under attack over his reported remarks that writers returning their Akademi awards "should stop writing", Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma today sought to clarify that he cannot stop anybody from airing one's views, though he insisted that returning awards was a "wrong" move.

"I did not say that they should stop writing. How can I stop anybody from expressing his views. We are with them in condemning the murders -- be it of writers like M M Kalburgi or the killing at Dadri. Nobody is saying that anyone's murder is justified. This is a law and order problem.

"We are with them in condemning it. Action should be taken against whoever is guilty," the minister said.

"Our request is that this is not a subject on which they should resign. In my opinion, it does not serve the purpose. Returning awards for this reason is wrong. The Akademi, which has given them awards is an institution of authors and they have been given the award for their work. But what can we do if you want to return awards in protest," Sharma told reporters.

The Union minister came under sharp attack from Ashok Vajpeyi, one of the eminent writers returning his Sahitya Akademi awards.

A few days back, Vajpeyi had attacked Sharma, saying he "belittled" the multi-cultural and multi-religious fabric of the country. The writer had also reportedly criticised him saying "the culture minister lacks culture".

Avoiding an exchange of barbs, Sharma said, "It is his culture. I have already told that writers are the pride of India. (If he had said like that) then it is his culture," Sharma said.
Asked about eminent writers returning their awards citing 'rising intolerance' in the country, Sharma said that they should have taken up the issue with the Home Ministers of Centre and State Governments, instead of returning their Sahitya Akademi awards.

Refusing to respond to the criticisms of Booker Prize winning author Salman Rushdie, who extended his support to the writers, the Union Culture minister said that his ministry has nothing to do with it.

"Well I think he has addressed it to the government and it will react at the right time. Let the government or our spokesperson will give their comments on this...

"I am a Minister and if he puts a direct question to the Culture Ministry, I will respond to it. Who is opposing his right to support or not to support. Let him support. It is a democratic country. Salman Rushdie has given his support to a group of people. Let him give. Our ministry has nothing to make comment on it," he said.

Congress today attacked Sharma dubbing him "arrogance personified" for making light of writers returning their awards.

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