Mohan Bhandari, 78(Punjabi)Born in Sangrur district, Punjab, Bhandari retired from the state education department in 1995. Deeply influenced by Russian writers such as Tolstoy, Gorky, Chekhov and Urdu writers such as Manto, Bhandari’s writings reflect the changing face of Punjab’s rural society. He lives in Chandigarh and is writing his autobiography. Bhandari has to his credit seven collections of short stories and five books of stories translated from Hindi and Urdu. Some of his popular works include Til-Chouli, Kaathi di Latt and Gora Basha. He won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1997 for a collection of short stories, Moon di Akh. In 1967, he won the Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi award.
I protested because: “Returning the award is a way of bringing attention to the disturbing conditions prevailing in the country today. We have to think and speak against this violence and suppression of our creative freedom. Nobody can suppress the country’s secular spirit.”