Sahitya Akademi condemns rising cases of intolerance; urges writers to take back their awards

After writers of different languages on Friday took to the streets to protest against rising intolerance in the country and the death of writer MM Kalburgi, Sahitya Akademi condemning the cases of attacks on writers, urged the intellectuals to take back their awards.

Sahitya Akademi condemns rising cases of intolerance; urges writers to take back their awards

“We all condemned the killing of MM Kalburgi. We have unanimously decided that writers who have returned awards should take them back and people who have resigned should join back,” executive member of Sahitya Akademi Dr. Krishnaswamy Nachimuthu said.

Earlier in the day, tying black cloths around their mouths, writers and their supporters held a solidarity march in Delhi ahead of the Sahitya Akademi emergency meeting.

At least 35 writers from across the country have, over the past few weeks, announced their decision to return their Sahitya Akademi awards and stepped down from official Akademi positions to protest the “rising intolerance” in the country.

The protest march was convened by five groups – Janvadi Lekhak Sangh, Pragatisheel Lekhak Sangh, Jansanskriti Manch, Dalit Lekhak Sangh and Sahitya Sanvad.

Eminent writers Keki N Daruwala, Geeta Hariharan, Anuradha Kapoor (former director National School of Drama), Shekhar Joshi and Javed Ali among others were part of the protest.

Called the getting together of writers as historic step in the literary history of the country, the protesters called for the Akademi to condemn in strong terms the killings of Kannada writer Kalburgi and other writers and rationalists, and assure the writers that the Akademi would in these times of distress ensure the right to freedom of speech and expression.

Meanwhile, alleging that the move by authors to return awards was “motivated by their vested interests” and the literary body should not buckle under “pressure” a counter-protest was also held. The protest led by Joint Action group of Nationalist Minded Artists and Thinkers, JANMAT, also submitted a memorandum to the Akademi, questioning the motive of the writers and alleging these very people had earlier appealed to voters not to give a mandate to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Activists of BJP’s student wing ABVP also joined the protest, which coincided with the silent march by writers of different languages from Sri Ram Centre at Safdar Hashmi Marg to the Sahitya Akademi building, demanding that the Akademi pass a resolution pledging to take stern steps to safeguard freedom of speech and right to dissent of the writers.