A day after renowned literary critic and activist Professor Ganesh Devy returned the Sahitya Akademi award, noted Gujarati poet Anil Joshi, who was awarded the Akademi award in 1990 for his collection of essays titled, “Statue”, on Monday, returned the award in protest against the attack on literary writers.
Joshi, who made the announcement that he was returning the award on Monday said, “I felt extremely honored about being conferred with the Sahitya Akademi award at the hands of Gangadhar Gadgil, but today, the atmosphere has become hateful. There is no breathing space and no freedom of expression for literary writers. It is like losing oxygen because we are writers who wish for free breathing space. I do not need an oxygen cylinder in the form of awards to live. The attack on the brood of literarians is unfortunate and has taken away the freedom of expression.
The way Dr. MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare were killed are not isolated cases.” Joshi said that Monday’s attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni was regretful. “The ink that we use for writing books is being used to attack writers. It is shameful that these attacks are happening during Navratri, where Goddesses are to be respected and ink is a form of Goddess Saraswati. What are these wings, who claim to be Hindu wings doing? These attacks are not about religion, but about attacking human beings, all over the world,” Joshi said.
Joshi said that it is incomprehensible that such unfortunate instances of “intolerance” are occurring in today’s age. “I wonder why are people attacking literary writers and why are people afraid of what they say. Today, I am in the fag end of my life and these instances of attacks are deeply hurtful. The language that is being used in politics today is not the language of literature, strip Dalit women and there is no semblance of law and order. It is time to think and feel ashamed,” Joshi said, adding that he in fact began reading a book of Parveen Shakir after the attack on Kulkarni in Mumbai. “There is a poem by Shakir that describes the death of soul in people today. Main sach kahungi phir bhi haar jaungi, wo jhoot kahega aur lajawab kar dega (I shall speak the truth and be defeated, he will lie and silence me).”
Joshi’s work Statue was first published in 1988 and the book was selected for the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1990. The essays describe Joshi’s experiences in real life in a mixture of story-telling, narration, reflection and poetic ecstasy.