Expressing anguish against writers returning their awards over the “climate of intolerance” in the country, a group of Sikh protesters on Friday burnt books questioning the authors’ silence on 1984 anti-Sikh riots issue.
The protesters led by Gurcharan Singh Babbar, who had written a book on 1984 riots titled Sarkari Qatl-e-aam, burnt over 500 copies of the book at Jantar Mantar here registering their anger and frustration against the delay in justice in pending cases of 1984 riots.
“We want to question the author community who is returning their awards in protest against the climate of intolerance in the society that where were they for past 32 years? Why a similar civil outrage was not witnessed when 1984 Sikh riots shook the nation and the victims have been denied justice till date?, “ Babbar told reporters here.
Babbar’s book which is an anecdotal account of the riots, available in four languages - Hindi, English, Punjabi and Urdu was banned in 1998 after a petitioner, Suresh Chauhan, went to a local court saying the work had abused the judiciary, hurt feelings of many people and could trigger fresh riots.
The ban was, however, lifted later.
“Nothing concrete has happened so far on anti-1984 riots. Committee after committee and promises after promises, accused being given clean chits and much more drama has happened since then but no justice has been done. Why didn’t the author community question the intolerance atmosphere then,” he said.
Police tried to douse the fire and detained few of the protesters.
At least 36 writers including leading names like Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpeyi, Uday Prakash and K Veerabhadrappa had returned their Sahitya Akademi awards, and five writers stepped down from official positions of the literary body, protesting against its “silence” over “rising intolerance”.
They have been joined by filmmakers, historians and scientists who too jumped the bandwagon and returned their awards.