New Delhi(ANI): Writers, poets and artists on Friday took to the streets to protest against rising intolerance in the country and the death of writer MM Kalburgi, ahead of Sahitya Akademi’s emergency meet.
Writers gathered out at Shree Ram Centre in Delhi and marched towards the Akademi. They held up placards that read ‘Salute to Prof. Kalburgi’ and wore black scarves around their mouth.
At least 40 authors including Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpeyi, Sara Joseph and Uday Prakash have returned their Sahitya Akademi honours in protesting the rise of intolerance.
A week ago, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had termed the steady stream of writers returning Sahitya Academy awards as a “manufactured paper rebellion” against the government in the wake of a “manufactured crisis”.
Also read: What the return of Sahitya Akademi awards means for the nation
However, eminent author Vikram Seth had said that the decision by various authors to return their Sahitya Akademi awards was not a concerted action but courageous acts of protest against an institution which they looked up to defend their rights of free speech.
“Writers are not allowed to write about what we see then what should we do,” writer Githa Hariharan, who is a part of the protest in Delhi, told IBN.
Standing in solidarity with Indian authors, a global association of writers, has urged India to provide better protection for such individuals and safeguard free speech as guaranteed by the Constitution. In a statement, delegates from 73 countries participating in the 81st Congress of Pen International in Quebec, Canada expressed solidarity with the writers and artists, who have returned their prestigious awards in protest.
Simultaneously, PEN International President, John Ralston Saul, wrote a letter to the country’s President, Prime Minister and the Sahitya Akademi, urging the Indian government to take “immediate steps” to protect the rights of everyone, including writers and artists. “Writers from 150 countries assembled here in Quebec City in Canada for the 81st Congress of PEN International have expressed grave concern over the crisis following the murder of noted scholar and intellectual, MM Kalburgi,” Saul wrote.