Artists and scholars from the country have voiced their protest against the increasing attacks on right to dissent. Jawaharlal Nehru’s niece Nayantara Sahgal was the first one to make the bold move. She returned the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award raising concerns over a “dangerous distortion of Hinduism”. Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi and Malayalam novelist Sarah Joseph followed suit.
The present practice of returning awards has been triggered by the killings of writers and rationalists in Maharashtra and Karnataka, including those of MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. The latest victim of a growing culture of intolerance is Mohammad Ikhlaq, who was lynched recently by an mob on the suspicion of eating beef.
“Shocking tales are coming out every day. A writer can’t keep quiet. And higher authorities’ continued silence is really frightening,” said Sarah Joseph while announcing that she had decided to return her Sahitya Akademi award.
While some feel this is an insignificant gesture, others feel that all these artists openly protesting will make a strong political statement.