Writers debate fairness of returning awards; protests continue

Writers debate fairness of returning awards; protests continue

Leading literary figures across India continued to give up their Sahitya Akademi award in protest against “growing atmosphere of intolerance” in the country but several writers in West Bengal refused to return awards while poet Subodh Sarkar described such a move as a misdirected protest.

Nand Bhardwaj, a prominent Jaipur-based Rajasthani and Hindi writer returned his Sahitya Akademi award, which he won for his novel “Samhi Khulto Marag”, protesting the increasing attacks by communal forces on the freedom of expression.

He returned Rs 50,000 and the memento, which he received with the award.
In a letter written to secretary of Sahitya Akademi, Bhardwaj said the Akademi has failed to protect the life and respect of writers and intellects.
 
“Communal forces are attacking the basic constitutional right and Sahitya Akademi has been mute spectator. Many writers have returned their awards...Following their footsteps, I have also returned my award,” said Bhardwaj.

In West Bengal, poet and Akademi’s Young Achiever Award recipient Mandakranta Sen joined the protest on Wednesday.

However, much of Bengal’s literary world, has remained silent. Some prominent figures like poet Shankha Ghosh and author Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay even refused to return their awards.

Devi to the rescue
Meanwhile, the Akademi is said to be planning to seek advice from prominent litterateur and activist Mahasweta Devi. Given her stature among India’s literary circles, the Akademi hopes, a statement from her will help stop the barrage of criticism it has been facing in the last few weeks.

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