In early September, Hindi writer Uday Prakash returned the Sahitya Akademi award he won in 2010 for the novella Mohandas, to protest against the Akademi’s “indifference” over the murder of intellectuals such as M M Kalburgi. Following him, nearly 35 writers have since returned their awards to the Akademi.
Now the writers including those who had returned their Sahitya Akademi awards on Sunday wrote to the National Academy of Letters urging it to build on the resolution passed during its recent emergency meet and respond in a “strong, humane and robust” manner to situations.
“This is an urgent matter at this moment of spiralling hatred and intolerance,” a group of 41 writers said a statement to the Akademi president, and also asked the literary body to “reinvent” itself.
Earlier on October 23, the Sahitya Akademi has expressed solidarity with writers and urged those who had returned their awards in protest against the body’s silence to take them back. Beaking its silence, the literary body also condemned the killing of eminent Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi and supported the right to freedom of speech of every writer in the country.
At least 36 writers including Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpeyi, had one after another returned their Sahitya Akademi awards in protest against the Akademi’s “muted response” to killings of writers and rationalists, besides on incidents such as the Dadri lynching and blackening of Sudheendra Kulkarni’s face in Mumbai. Five writers had also stepped down from the literary body’s official positions.
The authors, who have written the letter, include Nayantara Sahgal, Ganesh Devy, Ashok Vajpeyi, Githa Hariharan, K Satchidanandan, Gurbachan Singh Bhullar, Keki Daruwalla, Kum Veerabhadrappa, Krishn Sobti, Sara Joseph, Shashi Deshpande and Waryam Sandhu, among others.