Theatre artist Raghunandana turns down Akademi award

Theatre artist Raghunandana turns down Akademi award

S Raghunandana

A day after the announcement of Sangeet Natak Akademi awards, acclaimed theatre artist, poet and playwright S Raghunandana has refused to accept the award citing the growing trend of hatred towards activists, intellectuals and attempts to throttle their righteous struggle to uphold the spirit and values of the constitution.

In his statement, Raghunandana wrote, “Today, there is mob lynching and violence in the name of God and religion and even in the matter of what one eats. The powers-that-be are directly, or indirectly, responsible for these deadly acts of murder and violence. They are directly or indirectly supporting the hate campaign that uses all means, including those offered by internet technology to fulfil its unholy aims.”

Drawing references, further, to the fight of promising youngsters like Kanhaiya Kumar who have been facing charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy Raghunandana said, “Several intellectuals and social activists are facing trial under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Most of them have not even got bail and are spending time in prison. These are people who stood up for the cause of the most exploited and downtrodden of our country and everywhere else. They have argued on behalf of the exploited in the courts and written books and articles about their suffering and guided them to fight non-violently.”

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Not attributing such trend to any one particular party or regime, Raghunandana stated, “Our rulers have decided that the best way to silence the poor and powerless is to throttle the voices of these conscientious intellectuals and activists. This has always been so, regardless of the party, or parties, in power.” He also expressed concern that an attempt is being made to put in place systems that will teach lessons of hate and irrationality to students everywhere, from those in institutions of highest education to those in schools and colleges.

Speaking to DH, Raghunandana said, “When such injustice is being done to these dharmamargis in my country that was built on the principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, as a theatre artist, poet and playwright I can not accept this award. My atmasakshi and antaryamido not permit me to.” The Bangalore based activist also clarified that his refusal is not a protest but emanates out of despair, a helpless inability to accept the award. “I respect the Akademi and all those who have received the award, now and in the past. I thank the members of the Akademi and apologise,” he said in his letter.