Marathi author Pradnya Pawar returned the five awards and the cash prizes conferred upon her by the state government, as mark of protest against the inefficiency of the government in controlling the recent incidents that threatened the security and freedom of expression in the state.
The Dalit author has won the prestigious Kavi Keshavsut award, Indira Sant award and the Balkavi award and two other awards, with the prize money totaling to Rs1,13,000. Pawar’s foray into literature began 25 years ago, with her first compilation of poems, Antastha, which received the Balkavi award. She penned four more books and a compilation of short stories in the past 25 years.
Pawar has written to the chief minister expressing her wish to return the awards and will meet the culture department on Wednesday. Her decision is also supported by several other authors who have decided to join her.
Pawar, the daughter of Padmashree awardee Daya Pawar, calls herself a Dalit feminist author, who has written about the exploitation of the Dalit community, especially women. “We authors bring social inequality to the forefront. For the past one year, our country has been taking steps towards inequality. The killing of Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare has proved we do not have a right to think differently in our country. The recent incident at Dadri, love jihad and also the ban on Muslims from playing Dandiya in Gujarat proved there are limitations on secularism in our country,” she said.
She said the Sudhendra Kulkarni incident might be a trigger, but her decision has been based on incidents that have happened in the past year-and-a-half.
“The authors across the country have undertaken this movement. I wanted to join them to strengthen their cause. My decision is not an attack on the government or the BJP. I want to ask the chief minister will he provide protection to common man like he did to Kulkarni. It is the fundamental freedom of the common man to choose what they eat, wear, speak or read, which is being hampered. The government is least bothered about these issues,” she said.
Pawar has being active with the Dalit Panther movements across the state and has penned a play on the Khairalanji massacre. “The situation is grave than the Emergency. Today political party workers from the ruling party, too, are keeping a watch on our every move,” she said.