Veteran scientist P M Bhargava has announced he was returning the awards he received from the government of India to protest against communal politics and “the government’s attack on rationalism, reasoning and science.”
The founder-director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Bhargava attacked Narendra Modi government for “giving room for communalists and fringe groups to divide the country based on religion.”
“An artist can express his dissent by doing an art work. But I am a scientist. How will I protest through my work? So I had to take the decision to return the award as it is the only way to register my protest,” he was quoted in newspaper reports.
The octogenarian scientist said that he will meet the home secretary and return his Padma Bhushan award soon.
He added, “I hope the decision taken by me would at least sensitise them towards the alarming situation in the country. Scientists cannot be silent or ignore things happening around.”
“Moreover, there are statements from the fringe groups almost everyday. All these sectarian forces were there in the country for several decades. But now they get more courage to do things under the Narendra Modi government. They could kill people and make statements of hatred. Even yesterday, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said a husband and a wife are bound by a social contract and Women should be housewives. Such statements started arising in the last one and half years because Modi himself is a man of RSS. And BJP is the political front of RSS. Its very very disturbing,” he said.
Bhargava’s decision comes in the aftermath of 107 senior scientists signing an online statement on Wednesday to join the chorus of protests by other scientists, artists and writers.
Another 135 scientists had signed an online petition addressed to the President on Tuesday protesting intolerance.