THE FAMILY of Shahul Hameed, better known as Inquilab, has decided to return the 2017 Sahitya Akademi award conferred posthumously on the Tamil poet and writer, saying that he “didn’t believe in receiving awards from the government or intellectuals”.
Inquilab, who died in December 2016, was among 24 winners announced by the Akademi on Thursday to honour their literary work. He was among five poets selected from different languages, including Tamil, Maithili, Marathi, Santali and Telugu.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Inquilab’s daughter Amina Bharvin said, “His name was on the final list of the Akademi awards at least twice earlier, but he wouldn’t accept it as he didn’t believe in receiving awards from the government or intellectuals.”
Bharvin, 35, a medical practitioner in Chennai, said, “He had a strong political stand against the state and governments for its anti-people stands. He wouldn’t have accepted the award even if he had got it when he was alive.”
Before his death at the age of 75, Inquilab had penned at least 10 collections of poetry drawn from the Communist movement. The anti-Hindi agitations in the 1960s inspired Inquilab to take up political activity, beginning with the CPI(M) and later the CPI-ML. He was also at the forefront of massive protests by teachers in Chennai, then Madras, in the mid-1980s. “He was born in a village in Ramanathapuram district, and the struggles and difficulties during his early life attracted him to the Communist movement and its literature,” said Bharvin.
Former Madras High Court judge K Chandru, who helped published an early work of Inquilab — Inquilab Kavithaigal (Inquilab’s Poems) — in the 1970s, disagreed with family’s decision.
“The award is constituted by the government but it was a jury of literary figures that recommended his name. There was nothing against accepting the award even if he was a strong critic of the state… I was among a team of students that published Inquilab’s first collection of poetry to be sold on campuses. We sold at least 1,000 copies,” he said.