The list of writers and authors giving up their prestigious literary honours and awards in protest against the attack on free speech is growing longer and longer. The pace at which prominent writers are returning their honours and awards has drastically increased over the last one week.
So far, 33 authors have returned their awards given by the Sahitya Akademi, and five writers have stepped down from official positions of the literary body.
On Sunday, three authors have showcased their dissent against the shrinking freedom of speech in the country by giving up their Sahitya Akademi awards. Prominent author Kashinath Singh, Telugu translator Katyayani Vidmahe and Urdu poet Munawwar Rana have marked their solidarity with their fellow writers by returning awards.
Kashinath Singh has protested the “irresponsible” remarks made by various Union ministers against fellow Sahitya Akademi award winning writers who have over the past two weeks announced their decision to return the honours.
Singh said he will hand over the 2011 award he received for his fiction “Rehan Par Raghu” along with a cheque to Akademi on Monday.
“Certain ministers from the Centre have made irresponsible remarks against the authors who returned their awards. The authors’ decisions have not been taken seriously,” Singh said.
Singh, a former professor at the Banaras Hindu University, also said he was protesting the “very ridiculous” allegations that “the authors were politically motivated.”
“Writers are not so foolish to get swayed by anybody. Their actions are against the Akademi’s stance on the tragic incidents in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Dadri. They are not against the Akademi itself,” Singh said.
Meanwhile, Telugu translator Katyayani Vidmahe has also announced her decision to return her 2013 Kendriya Sahitya Akademi translation award in solidarity with other authors who had given back their Sahitya awards.
“I am returning my award in dissent to a range of incidents like the silencing of the Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, the killing of Kannada writer and Sahitya Akademi awardee M M Kalburgi. This is against the violence of writers and for the freedom of expression,” Vidmahe said.
The Warangal-based writer had received an Akademi award for her ‘Sahityakashamlo Sagam – Streela Astitwa Sahityam -Kavitwam – Katha’, a compilation of essays about literature on gender identity published in 2010.
Joining in the chorus of protests by the writers’ community, popular Urdu writer Munawwar Rana on Sunday returned his Sahitya Akademi award on a live TV show.
Along with the award, Munawwar Rana also returned a signed cheque of Rs 1 Lakh. He also said that he would never accept any government awards in future.
The Sahitya Akademi has convened an emergency meeting on October 23 to discuss the developments of the past couple of weeks.