Kashinath Singh on Friday became the first littérateur from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi to announce his decision to return the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award over “growing intolerance” in the country.
The award was given to him for his novel ‘Rehan par Ragghu’ in 2011.
In announcing his decision, he joined the league of writers returning the prestigious literary award.
“Growing intolerance has resulted in incidents like Dadri. Litterateurs like Kalburgi, Dabholkar and Pansare were murdered. A serious threat looms large on the freedom of speech. Despite this fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has maintained a silence over the matter,” Singh said in an interaction with journalists at his residence in Sunderpur here.
The writers and litterateurs were already feeling hurt, but the statements made by two union ministers insulted them, he added.
“I am feeling hurt by all these developments. So I have decided to return the Sahitya Akademi award,” Singh said, adding that he pondered over the matter for the last three days before making the announcement. He appealed to the Akademi authorities to protect the constitutional values of Indian democracy and support the stand taken by the writers.
Asked why he didn’t return the awards given by state government, Singh said, “Freedom of speech is not under surveillance here. Whether the state government does anything or not, writers are free to raise their voices (sarkar kuchh kare ya na kare par sahityakar apni baat khulkar kah sakte hai). At least, the government listens to the writers.”