Writers across the country have suddenly come together and are fighting against the rising intolerance and the communal atmosphere by returning the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award, that was awarded to them.
So far over 10 writers have returned the award in protest of the sudden attacks on the cultural, political and liberal values of the country.
While may criticise the move of writers returning their awards as a form of dissent, the writers who do so, stand firmly by their actions.
Why are writers returning their prestigious awards
Amidst constant incidents of rising intolerance such as the murder of Kannada writer MM Kalburgi or the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri, on the alleged suspicion that beef was being cooked in his home, writers have united to voice their dissent.
Kalburgi's murder raised many questions when the Akademi refused to take a firm stance on his murder. Writers believed that the Akademi was a promoter of the finest art and culture in the country but its refusal to stand up against Kalburgi's murder shocked many.
The Akademi, on the other hand, said in a statement that the body condemns attacks on writers anyway but the statement didn't seem to convince writers at all.
Returning Sahitya Akademi Award: Justified or not?
Writers say that today they feel more threatened than before. They fear that the space for their freedom of expression is shrinking at a fast pace. With more bans and restrictions on dissenting voices and more incidents of intolerance cropping up, will only result in an upswing of intolerance.
They are concerned that the assaults on their freedom will increase in the coming days and hence by returning their Sahitya Akademi Award, they want to bring it to the notice of the public that their rights are not protected.
Even some political leaders justify the act saying that the 'writers are standing up for what is right.'
The biggest asset of a writer is his words, his pen and the recognition he receives for the same. By giving up their awards, these writers are sending out a strong message. Though there have been many rational activists and writers who have been killed and threatened in the past, what has brought the writers together is the number of incidents that have occurred in the past few months.
Some on the other hand, believe that by returning the award, the writers are disrespecting the Akademi and also those who chose to give the award to the writers. The Akademi is an independent, autonomous body and is just supported by the Government of India.
Will returning of the award have an impact on such issues or will it just create a big gap between writers, the Akademi and the Government is something that we must wait for.