Three eminent writers from Punjab, Gurbachan Bhullar, Ajmer Singh Aulakh and Atamjit Singh, announced that they were returning their Sahitya Akademi awards, joining the growing protest by litterateurs against “rising intolerance” and the “communal atmosphere”.
“During recent past, the attempts at disrupting the social fabric of the country, targeting particularly the area of literature and culture, under an orchestrated plan of action, has been perturbing me,” Bhullar said.
The 78-year-old author born in Bathinda in Punjab had been awarded the Sahitya Akademi for his 2005 book of short stories “Agni-Kalas”.
A renowned Punjabi playwright, Aulakh said he was very pained by the attacks on “progressive writers, leaders of the rational movement and the forcible saffronisation of education and culture”.
He said he was “very upset over the communal atmosphere being created in the country and the central government was not performing its duty as the representative of a secular and democratic country”.
Hindi writer Uday Prakash, Nayantara Shegal, poet Ashok Vajpeyi, Sara Joseph, Urdu writer Rahman Abbas have also returned their awards recently protesting the Akademi’s silence on the murder of fellow writer and Sahitya Akademi board member M M Kalburgi as well as against the “communal” atmosphere in the backdrop of the Dadri lynching incident.
Malayalam poet K Satchidanandan has also decided to quit all posts in the Akademi while another Malayalam short story writer P K Parakkadavu also said he will quit the Akademi membership.
Renowned Punjabi theater personality Atamjit Singh on Sunday said he was returning his Akademi Award as he “is very upset over the incidents communal hatred in the country for the last some months”.
Meanwhile, poet and critic Adil Jussawalla, who won the Sahitya Akademi honour for his 2014 work, on Sunday urged the literary body to condemn the “unacceptable censoring” of writers by “violentaly intolerant groups.” Jussawalla has written to Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari, chairperson of Sahitya Akademi.
Referring to the recent murder of Kalburgi and other rationalists Narendra Dhabolkar and Govind Pansare, he urged the Akademi to speak up and issue a statement condeming the state of affairs.
“I realise that the Akademi has rules and regulations but I do feel that it should condemn what is happening to the writing community. But what I don’t understand is the lack of urgency.
Instead of waiting for December when the Akademi convenes for its executive meeting,it should expedite the matter urgently,” Jussawalla told PTI.