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Bengali writer returns award, says she feels ‘insulted’ over honour to CM Mamata

Ratna Rashid Banerjee returned the ‘Annada Shankar Smarak Samman’ with which she was honoured by the academy in 2019.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: May 11, 2022 2:53:10 pm
Ratna Rashid Banerjee (Twitter/@ANI)

A Bengali writer on Tuesday returned an award given to her by Paschimbanga Bangla Academy to protest its decision to confer a special award on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her contribution to the cause of literature.

Ratna Rashid Banerjee returned the ‘Annada Shankar Smarak Samman’ with which she was honoured by the academy in 2019.

“I did not like their decision and that’s why I have decided to return my award. There is no politics behind my move. I have said whatever I had to say on this in a written statement,” said Banerjee, speaking to The Indian Express over phone.

Banerjee, who has written over 30 books of articles and short stories, has also done research work on folk culture, including those on the marginalised sections of society.

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In a letter to the academy chairman Bratya Basu, who is also the state education minister, Banerjee claimed that the award has become a “crown of thorns” for her in the wake of its decision to confer a new literary award to the CM on the birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.

“As a writer, I feel insulted by the move to give a literary award to the CM. It will set a bad precedent. The statement of the academy praising the relentless literary pursuit of the honourable chief minister is a travesty of truth,” said Banerjee.

During a state government-organised programme to celebrate the birth anniversary of Tagore on Monday, the award, introduced this year, was announced for the chief minister’s book, ‘Kabita Bitan’ a collection of over 900 poems. As the chief minister was not present at the event, the award was handed over to Basu on her behalf.

According to the Bengali writer, the chief minister could have shown maturity by not accepting the award after it was announced. ‘Kabita Bitan’ was released at the 2020 International Kolkata Book Fair.

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