Well-known Tamil writer B Jeyamohan, the family of late Shetkari Sanghatana founder Sharad Joshi and journalist Virendra Kapoor are learnt to have declined the Padma awards before the final list was announced on Monday.
Jeyamohan said he turned down the Padma Shri as he wanted to avoid being tagged as a Hindutva sympathiser. While he said it was a proud moment for him when he heard the news from an official in the union culture ministry, he said he had to turn down the award to avoid anyone misreading his writings.
In his Facebook post, Jeyamohan said accepting the award may help others call him a pro-Hindutva writer at a time when he is already being attacked for his political stand. He said the integrity behind his ideas may be questioned, and he didn’t want to join any camp — neither those “close to the power centres”, nor “anti-national agents”.
Jeyamohan is currently busy with his novel, Venmurasu, an adaptation of Mahabharata. A source close to the writer said he was “playing safe” to avoid a political tag. “He feels he should maintain his independent status… his stand in the recent past in favour of right wing politics has invited criticism from a large section of his readers,” said his friend.
Meanwhile, Anant Deshpande, trustee of Shetkari Sanghatana and an associate of Joshi since 1984, said: “Home ministry officials called and spoke to Joshi’s daughter on Sunday regarding a posthumous Padma Shri. She humbly refused to accept the award, saying that his work was much bigger than the award.”
Sureshchandra Mhatre, another close associate of Joshi, said this was not the first time that Joshi had been considered for a Padma award. “In 1992, a similar attempt was made… Then also, he had refused to accept the award,” he said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Kapoor, who was jailed during Emergency, said: “I have nothing against the government. I have not accepted anything from any government in the last 40 years, and I don’t believe in taking anything from the government.”
Last year, among those who declined the Padma awards was the family of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, spiritual and temporal head of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslims, who died in Mumbai in 2014; yoga guru Ramdev; Sri Sri Ravishankar and Salim Khan, father of actor Salman Khan.