The latest to join the long list of artistes from Maharashtra who are returning their state awards to protest the Dadri lynching and increase in communal instances is Ramdas Bhatkal.
A veteran in the publishing industry and the director of Popular Prakashan, one of the foremost publishing houses of Marathi books, 80-year-old Bhatkal has penned an open letter to announce that he will be returning the two state awards that he has received in the past.
These are for his books, titled Jigsaw (1998-99) and Mohanmaya (2009).
“Currently the daylight murders of some of the great dissenters and the inability of the state boasting of investigating capacity at the level of the Scotland Yard, has created restlessness among ordinary citizen. Actually the world has progressed over centuries through dissenters. Socrates, Galileo, Martin Luther, Einstein, Nelson Mandela were all dissenters and they all helped human progress. Nearer home, the Buddha, Jnaneshwar, Kabir, Shivaji, Gandhiji, Babasaheb Ambedkar were dissenters. Some were honoured, others had to pay dearly. But few can deny the significant role played by them,” read an excerpt from his letter.
Speaking to The Indian Express over the phone, Bhatkal elaborated quite extensively, “I am not returning the amount that I had got to the government but sending an the amount of Rs 20,000 to Yusuf Meherally Centre. From my personal resources, I am also sending donations to Maharogi Sewa Samiti and Narmada NavanirmanAbhiyan. The purpose is to backup my anguished words with some token sacrifice.”