Why return awards now, why not earlier: V K Singh to writershttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/why-return-awards-now-why-not-earlier-v-k-singh-to-writers/

Why return awards now, why not earlier: V K Singh to writers

“There is a question mark on their act. Are they really concerned or is there any other reason (for returning the award)?” he asked.

Governer Ram Naik reacts after releasing Union minister General V K Singh’s book, Sahas evam Sankalp, at Raj Bhavan in Lucknow on Saturday. (Vishal Srivastav)
Governer Ram Naik reacts after releasing Union minister General V K Singh’s book, Sahas evam Sankalp, at Raj Bhavan in Lucknow on Saturday. (Vishal Srivastav)

CALLING the mob murder or a man in Dadri following rumours of cow slaughter a “localised” incident, Union Minister of State for External Affairs Gen (retd) V K Singh Saturday criticised writers who have returned literary awards to protest against the killing as well the murder of writer and rationalist M M Kalburgi.
Singh asked Sahitya Akademi awardees and other writers to explain why they did not raise their voice when “similar incidents” happened earlier.

“Why didn’t they return their award earlier? Such incidents have occurred in the past as well… even when they got the award, but they did not take such a decision (then). The pain should be evident all the time,” said Singh, who was in Lucknow Saturday for the release of the Hindi version of his autobiography, Sahas Aur Sankalp.

“There is a question mark on their act. Are they really concerned or is there any other reason (for returning the award)?” he asked.

“Sahitya Akademi should not be made a political issue. One incident (Kalburgi murder) occurred in Karnataka. Threats were even issued to Salman Rushdie but no one raised their voice. Why?” Singh said, before asserting that “at times, we give too much emphasis to something”.

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Asked to comment on the Dadri incident, he said, “There are personal issues, localised things… but they are blown out of proportion and spread across the country. This is what is happening. Country’s religious harmony is shown in a negative light, media should also ponder. Such localised incidents have occurred earlier, too.

He also advised that the “record of the last 20 years” should be looked into.

On the Shiv Sena’s ink attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni for organising the book launch of Pakistan’s former foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri in Mumbai, Singh said, “Chehre pehle bhi kaley kiye gaye, awaz uthai, aapne uthai? (faces were blackened earlier, too. Did you raise your voice then?)”

Singh called statements by various ministers and BJP leaders on the Dadri killing as “their individual statements”. “It is wrong when we start politicising the issue. (Union Minister Mahesh) Sharma is not the government’s spokesperson and his statement is not that of the government. Even I am not the spokesperson. I speak as V K Singh,” he said. Sharma had called the Dadri killing an “accident”.

“This country and its people have communal tolerance and harmony… showing it differently is wrong,” he said.

“A word ‘saffronisation’ was coined sometime back and I have not understood its meaning in my 40 years of career… it is a colour of sacrifice but shown as negative. The government has one policy and everybody knows it – faith in all religions and appeasement to none. Things will move as per Constitution and law,” he added.

Singh did admit that if there is any error in India’s stand on Nepal issue, it will be rectified. “There should be no hurry to decide on anything. Development should not be taken and assume far reaching consequences. Some things happen due to some other reasons. Indian PM went there after 19 years, if there is any error it will be rectified,” he said.

During the function, Singh said that the last pages of his autobiography will motivate the readers to do something for the country. “I never thought to stick to my post or chair. In 2010, somebody said that so much money will be given. I informed the then defence minister about the cost of the chair and requested him to appoint someone else; he asked me to continue,” he said.

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“If you hold fast to your ideals and values, you will get the benefit. I got the opportunity to become the Army chief. I worked with the people who had their own aim,” he added.