Another Writer Returns Award, Says, ‘Not The Free India I Lived In’
Thrissur, Kerala: Joining an increasing number of writers and poets who have returned honours and given up positions in recent weeks, author Sara Joseph said today that she is returning the Sahitya Akademi Award that she received in 2003.
“There is a growing fear and lack of freedom under the present government,” said the writer who had won the award for her Malayalam novel Alahayude Penmakkal.
Condemning the murder of rationalist writer MM Kalburgi and the mob killing of a 50-year-old man in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri allegedly over rumours that he had eaten beef, she said, “Writers are being killed, people are being killed, ghazal singers are not being allowed to perform – this is not the free India I have lived in.”
“The Sahitya Akademi has remained silent over all of this, when it should have been the first to speak out. I am returning my award in protest,” Ms Joseph said.
Joining her, noted poet from Kerala K Satchidanandan and short story writer PK Parakkadavu resigned from their official posts in Sahitya Akademi committees. Mr Satchidanandan had earlier asked the Akademi to pass a resolution against them killing of Mr Kalburgi.
Ms Joseph is the latest to join a protest by writers and poets who have resigned and turned down honours in recent weeks. Yesterday, novelist Shashi Deshpande offered her resignation from the Sahitya Akademi General Council denouncing “growing intolerance” in the country. Urdu novelist Rehman Abbas also returned his 2011 Sahitya Akademi Award on the same day.
Earlier noted writers Nayantara Sahgal and poet Ashok Vajpeyi had returned their literary honours to protest what they termed as an “assault on right to freedom of both life and expression”.