Kolkata, Oct 13: With eminent authors returning Sahitya Akademi awards to protest rising intolerance, union minister Bandaru Dattatreya said it was their individual right and intellectuals were free to act as per their wish in a democracy.
"It is their individual wish and India is a democratic country," the minister of state for labour told media persons here on Tuesday while attending an event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Nearly two dozen authors have announced their decision to return their awards as a mark of protest since a man was lynched in Uttar Pradesh's Dadri area allegedly for consuming beef, and in the wake of murders of writers in the country.
Asked about Monday's incident of Shiv Sena cadres pouring black paint on Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of the think-tank Observer Research Foundation, Dattatreya said, "The political leadership of BJP has already commented on it and my stand is the same as that of the national leadership."
A group of Shiv Sena cadres poured paint on Kulkarni to protest launch of a book by Pakistan's former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri at a function in Mumbai on Monday.