Dadri lynching: Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpeyi question PM Modi’s ‘silence’, give back Sahitya Akademi awards

In a stinging open letter titled "Unmaking of India", Sahgal wrote how India’s culture of diversity is under vicious assault.

Written by Ashutosh Bhardwaj | New Delhi | Updated: October 7, 2015 1:40 pm
nayantara sahgal, sahitya akademi award, sahitya akademi award 2015, nayantara sahgal sahitya academy award, nayantara sahgal PM modi In a stinging open letter titled “Unmaking of India”, Sahgal wrote how India’s culture of diversity is under vicious assault. (Source: Express Archive)

Protesting what she called a “vicious assault” on “India’s culture of diversity and debate” and questioning the silence of the Prime Minister on “this reign of terror”, including the lynching last week of a man in Dadri over rumours of beef consumption, writer Nayantara Sahgal said Tuesday she was returning her Sahitya Akademi award.

Ashok Vajpeyi, former chairperson of the Lalit Kala Akademi, also returned his Sahitya Akademi award, saying, “It’s high time that writers take a stand.”

Earlier, Hindi writer Uday Prakash had also returned his Sahitya Akademi award while six Kannada writers have returned literary awards given by the Karnataka government.

Watch Video: Nayantara Sahgal Questions PM Modi’s Silence, Returns Akademi Award

In an open letter headlined ‘The Unmaking of India’, Sahgal quoted Vice President Hamid Ansari’s recent speech that the Constitution promises all Indians “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.”

“The right to dissent is an integral part of this Constitutional guarantee,” Sahgal wrote, adding that “India’s culture of diversity and debate is now under vicious assault. Rationalists who question superstition, anyone who questions any aspect of the ugly and dangerous distortion of Hinduism known as Hindutva — whether in the intellectual or artistic sphere, or whether in terms of food habits and lifestyle — are being marginalized, persecuted, or murdered.”

Mentioning the killing of Kannada writer and Sahitya Akademi award winner M M Kalburgi and activists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, she said “other dissenters have been warned they are next in line”. “Most recently, a village blacksmith, Mohammed Akhlaq, was dragged out of his home in Bisara village outside Delhi, and brutally lynched, on the supposed suspicion that beef was cooked in his home,” she said.

“In all these cases, justice drags its feet. The Prime Minister remains silent about this reign of terror. We must assume he dare not alienate evil-doers who support his ideology. It is a matter of sorrow that the Sahitya Akademi remains silent. The Akademis were set up as guardians of the creative imagination, and promoters of its finest products in art and literature, music and theatre,” she said.

“In memory of the Indians who have been murdered, in support of all Indians who uphold the right to dissent, and of all dissenters who now live in fear and uncertainty, I am returning my Sahitya Akademi Award,” Sahgal said in her letter.

The Sahitya Akademi hit back. “She (Sahgal) was given the award long ago. Her (award-winning) book has been translated into several languages (by Sahitya Akademi). She earned all the profits. She can now return the award money, but what of the credibility and goodwill she earned through the award?” Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari, Akademi’s chairperson, told The Indian Express.

Responding to Tiwari’s remarks, Sahgal said: “The Akademi is an autonomous body. It should speak up against the disappearance of right to protest.”

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  1. R
    rd
    Oct 6, 2015 at 11:21 pm
    Red herring fallacy.
    Reply
    1. A
      AntiModi IE
      Oct 6, 2015 at 5:52 pm
      OK editor, please find some more dirty minded creatures, so that you can pour some more filth on Modi.
      Reply
      1. C
        Chetan
        Oct 8, 2015 at 8:52 pm
        Please ask her why she didn't return her awards when Sikhs were killed en m in Delhi in 1984 and Rajeev Gamdhi didn't do anything about it
        Reply
        1. I
          Indian
          Oct 7, 2015 at 7:27 am
          Be aware of these writers. They are more dangerous than terrorists..
          Reply
          1. U
            Utkarsh Singh
            Oct 6, 2015 at 10:09 pm
            Academy should send her a bill of the benefits she received during all these years. This is the height of hypocrisy, at the one hand she is returning the award and humiliating the academy, while on the other hand she is claiming that Academy is an autonomous body. This is pure and simple, snobbery of a Nehru level by a privileged niece of the Nehru.
            Reply
            1. K
              K.sundar
              Oct 7, 2015 at 12:08 am
              It should have been clearly given that this Nayanathara is related to Nehru family so that readers canl understand the reason for doing this drama baji.
              Reply
              1. K
                K.sundar
                Oct 7, 2015 at 12:00 am
                What is so special for this lady to giver her award? was it because of her family relation ? People of present dont care her.
                Reply
                1. S
                  Samanya Admi
                  Oct 7, 2015 at 3:11 am
                  Where were the likes of Nayantara Sahgal when gag rapes were happening on the streets of New Delhi? Where were they when reign of corruption destro India to its roots? Where were they when Indian blood was on the street because of terrorism? Where were they when our soldiers were beheaded and their mother could not even see the face of her brave son? Is an isolated incidence in Dadri reflective of 'reign of terror'? Such an exagerration and dramatization must stop in the name of humanity. One and all have condemned the terrible act of cold blooded murder? I share the pain as we have suffered and lived with it without justice. Let the law of the land take its course. Let us all work to help create a society where no such heinous act occurs? The Indian intelligentsia needs to stand up to the times in a globalized word to help India hold head high by giving sense of sane direction to the society.
                  Reply
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