Now, Sahitya Akademi begins 'award wapsi'

Now, Sahitya Akademi begins 'award wapsi'

The Sahitya Akademi on Friday faced a fresh round of confrontation with writers as after its president Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari claimed that eminent author Nayantara Sahgal has taken back her award.

Nayantara, niece of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and author of more than nine novels, returned her award in protest against what she described as the “rising attacks on those questioning the ugly and dangerous distortion of Hinduism” in wake of the murder of rationalist M M Kalburgi and the lynching of Mohammed Akhtaq in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, last year.

Hours after Tiwari’s remaks to mediapersons, Sahgal refuted Tiwari’s claim in a statement, posted on a website of Indian Cultural Forum.

“I have just been informed by the Sahitya Akademi that their policy does not allow them to keep returned awards, and that they are returning the cheque I sent them in October 2015. The cheque is now invalid. It has taken the Akademi three months to inform their awardees of such a policy,” Sahgal said in her statement, titled — Writers Fight is On!

“Let me make it clear: I am not taking back either the award or the cheque, which is now invalid anyway. My protest against the crushing of dissent stands, and I shall continue to speak and act for the freedom of expression,” she added.

Her rebuttal came even as a section of media published a news item over return of Sahitya Akademi award to Sahgal quoted her as saying on Thursday: “The Akademi wrote a letter to me saying it is against their policy to receive returned award and therefore they are sending back the award.

I will use the money for a worthwhile cause and welfare schemes.” She also questioned the “silence” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over “such reign of terror”. Scores of writers, authors, artists and filmmakers subsequently joined the protest, triggering a countrywide debate over “intolerance”, ahead of Bihar state assembly polls.

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