Harsh Brahmbhatt, former bureaucrat and writer who was nominated by the Gujarat Urdu Sahitya Academy for an award for his collection of poems Mera Apna Aasman, Monday refused to accept the honour on the ground that it was being given by a “non-autonomous” body.
In a letter addressed to Academy president Bhagyesh Jha, also a former bureaucrat, he conveyed his inability to attend the award function on Tuesday at Bhaikaka Hall where 11 other writers will be felicitated.
Brahmbhatt said that he is a trustee of the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad which has “taken a principled stand” that none of its office-bearers would accept any award or prize given by the non-autonomous Gujarat Sahitya Academy, “which has been presently headed by you in an unconstitutional manner”.
“Even otherwise also, as a literary person, I am clearly of the view that the awards/prizes being given by non-autonomous Academy cannot be accepted by those who hold autonomy of the Academy above everything,” Brahmbhatt said in the letter that was also released to the media.
When contacted, Jha said Brahmbhatt continued to be a member of government-run Vali Gujarati Ghazal Kendra. “It is double standards. If he accepts the award, it is fine with us,” Jha said, noting that Brahmbhatt had already accepted Gaurav Puraskar.
Several writers have been demanding autonomy for the Academy since April last year when Jha, a former IAS officer, was nominated its president without any election for the post.