Eminent poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar on Wednesday came out in support of noted author Nayantara Sahgal’s decision to return her Sahitya Akademi award, saying the recent incidents of intolerance were not expected from a country like India and that it must have pained the writer.
“I can understand her agony. She comes from a tradition of secularism and better values and when she feels this thing, she must be very pained,” Akhtar told PTI when asked about Sahgal returning her award in protest against rising intolerance in the society.
“I understand… what can one say? It is a protest but I think much more has to be done in the society because whatever is happening now-a-days, is not desirable at all,” he said.
“And one does not expect this from our society at least. I don’t expect such things to happen in India. One used to hear such things happening in some other society; not ours,” the noted poet and successful film script writer said, adding, “One does not feel proud of what is happening here.”
“The writers should actually communicate and write more and they should see to it that writings should reach people. Who am I to say whether she should have done it or not but the fact is that this is also a protest and draws attention and makes people think why she has done it,” he said.
Akhtar spoke to the PTI on occasion of the launch of the book ‘Pigeons of the Domes’ by noted author and translator Rakhshanda Jalil. The book is a compilation of 19 short stories by various Hindi and Urdu authors and includes stories on Hindu-Muslim relations, the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley, marginalisation of Hindus in Punjab and the persecution of Sikhs in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Sahgal, who had received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1986 for her English novel ‘Rich Like Us (1985)’, on Tuesday returned her award saying, “The ruling ideology today is a fascist ideology and that is what is worrying me now. We did not have a fascist government until now… I am doing whatever I believe in.”