Malayalam novelist Sarah Joseph on Saturday returned her Sahitya Akademi award in protest against the alleged “stifling of free thinking and trampling of democratic ideals”.
Joseph’s protest came on the day Malayalam poet K Satchidanandan announced he had resigned from the Akademi’s executive board.
“Shocking tales are coming out every day. A writer can’t keep quiet. And higher authorities’ continued silence is really frightening,” said Joseph. “It is sad people are even denied their basic right to select their food. Intolerance is visible everywhere,” she said commenting about the murder of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh’s Bisada village for allegedly slaughtering a cow and eating beef.
“The recent killings of writers and rationalists are really worrying. And people are spilling blood on the street over their right to take their food. Fringe organizations are dictating terms for them what to eat or what not to. Sutation is really scary,” she said adding Prime Minister Narendra Modi had commented on Bisada nine days after the murder.
“We all thought the PM would refer the incident and console the family. But he made a general speech aimed at attracting more votes in Bihar assembly election. It is highly deplorable,” she said.
Joseph, who won the Sahitya Akademi award in 2004 for her work Aalahayuda Penmakkal, joined the Aam Adami Party two years and unsuccessfully contested from Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency in the last general election.
Writer Shashi Despandse resigned from the Akaedmi on Friday protesting against the murder of Kannada writer and thinker M M Kalburgi.
Earlier this week, writer Nayantara Sahgal returned the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award to protest against a “dangerous distortion of Hinduism” and to express solidarity with “all Indians who uphold the right to dissent”. After Sahgal, poet Ashok Vajpeyi too gave back the award and targeted Prime Minister Modi for his alleged silence on recent incidents of violence.