Bengali poet Mandakranta Sen, who recently gave up her Sahitya Akademi award, on Friday refused to take it back, saying though the Akademi has condemned the killings of writers, the atmosphere of intolerance in the country hasn’t changed.
“There is no question of taking it back because the situation in the country has not changed. We are protesting against the intolerance, communalism and attacks on writers,” Sen said.
The Akademi on Friday condemned the killing of writers and urged those writers who had returned their awards in protest against its silence so far, to take them back.
Sen had, earlier this month, returned her Sahitya Akademi Young Writers Special Award, received in 2004 for her work in Bengali poetry. She is the sole recipient from this part of the country to have given back the coveted honour.
She said the Dadri lynching in Uttar Pradesh and attacks on writers across the country were the” direct reasons” for her decision to return the honour and register a protest against the central government.
Sahitya Akademi is India’s National Academy of Letters and dedicated to the promotion of literature in the languages of India.
The appeal by the organisation followed a meeting of the Akademi’s executive board in New Delhi, said Krishnaswamy Nachimuthu, an Akademi member and a Tamil scholar.
Over 100 litterateurs have returned their Akademi awards to protest primarily against the attacks by some Hindutva groups on writers and thinkers like M.M. Kalburgi.
The writers also cited the lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh over rumours that he ate beef as an example of growing intolerance in the country and took out a peaceful march here on Friday.
Kalburgi was killed in Karnataka in August this year followed by a series of protests by writers over growing religious intolerance across the country, but the Akademi had been silent till date.
Another noted writer, Govind Pansare was attacked on February 16 in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur. Shot at from a close range, the 81-year-old died of bullet injuries four days later.