Sarmistha Pritam, a 28-year-old Assamese author who is confined to a wheelchair due to spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in getting the National Book Trust (NBT) to pay up the royalty amount due to her.
“The English and Hindi versions of my autobiography called Atmakatha were published by NBT in mid-2014. More than a year has passed, but neither have I got the final copy of the agreement, nor the advance royalty that was promised. I have written several letters to the NBT, but since I have found no response, today I am writing to the prime minister for his intervention,” Sarmistha said on Thursday.
Sarmistha’s letter — which she chose to write in Assamese (“because I write in Assamese”) — said whenever she called up the standard answer she got was “It (her case) is under process.”
She said she had also taken up the matter with the NBT director.
“I have been compelled to write to you, Dear Prime Minister, because, I think only with your intervention will things begin to move and I will get justice,” she wrote in her letter.
“I cannot move about on my own because of my disability caused by my spinal muscular atrophy that afflicted me when I was about eight years old. But when I write, and when my writings and books are read by people, I have a feeling that I am moving around amid them,” she wrote.
NBT director Rita Choudhury, when contacted, said that Sarmistha Pritam’s case was being dealt with on priority.
“The decision to publish the English and Hindi versions of her book was taken before I took over. She called me up and told me the whole story. I have already asked for expediting her payment,” Choudhury, who is also an eminent Assamese author and winner of the Sahitya Akademi award, said.