The voices of protest by the renowned writers across the nation against the fascist moves of the BJP-led government prove that our sense of freedom and justice is still intact.
Many prominent writers and poets have recently expressed their dissent against the growing atmosphere of intolerance and violence in the country towards the minorities and those not following the right-wing ideologies by returning their awards and renouncing their positions in the Sahitya Academi General Council. Eminent litterateurs and radical thinkers have been killed by the Hindu right-wing groups in recent past along with other innocent people like Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri. Nayantara Sahgal, noted writer returned her Sahitya Academi Award on Tuesday protesting the Akademy’s silence on the recent incidents of intolerance in the country. Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi handed back his literary award to the government criticizing Prime Minister Modi for not breaking his silence against the attacks on the people. Urdu novelist Rahman Abbas announced that he would be returning the Maharashtra State Urdu Sahitya Akademy Award while Shashi Deshpande, a noted litterateur also resigned from the Sahitya Akademi General Council protesting the murder of Kannada writer M M Kalburgi.
Three prominent writers from Punjab Gurbachan Bhullar, Ajmer Singh Aulakh and Atamjit Singh announced on Sunday that they were returning their Sahitya Akademi awards. Gujarati writer and activist Professor Ganesh Devy returned his Sahitya Academi Award. Another writer Anand has written to the Akademi protesting against the breach of freedom of expression by the right-wing groups. Poet and critic Adil Jussawalla has also renounced his award for “unacceptable censoring” of writers. Writers from Kerala have also joined the nationwide protest against the intensifying ‘climate of hate’. Poet K Sachithanandan has resigned from all positions of the Kendra Sahitya Akademi saying that there should be freedom of life and thoughts. Writer and activist Sara Joseph returned her Akademi Award. K S Ravikumar, critic and head of the Malayalam department of Sanskrit University, P.K. Parakadavu, editor of Madhayam weekly and Kannada author Aravind Malagatti quit the Akademi’s General Council. A federation of Kashmiri scholars has expressed solidarity towards the protest. C R Prasad and Karnataka musician T M Krishna has also expressed their dissent towards the incidents of violence against the people and the government’s indifference on the matter.
Sahgal had expressed her anxiety over the ‘rising tide of hatred’ pointing out the Dadri lynching of Muslim man over rumours of consuming beef and also the recent killings of writers M.M. Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. She also expressed her concern about the consequences of the different incidents rather than any particular political event along with condemning Modi’s silence and inaction. Sahgal had strongly opposed the Emergency imposed by her cousin Indira Gandhi and senses an atmosphere of undeclared Emergency in the country. The latest attack on veteran journalist Sudheendra Kulkarni by Shiv Sena activists and the reaction of the party is despicable. The atmosphere of fear and intolerance is what has compelled the litterateurs to voice their dissent. The right-wing forces are on the rampage throughout the country ever since the NDA government came to power. Modi and his government responsible for the wellbeing of the citizens have maintained a meaningful silence during all such incidents of violence targeting the minorities. The PM’s silence has only boosted the courage of the senior party leaders and his Ministers to spit more poisonous and inciting remarks aimed at splitting the community along sectarian lines. India would cease to remain an independent and secular India and fascism would continue to tighten its hold on the country if the government fails to react. This has forced the writers and radical thinkers to lock horns with the government.
According to them, the right to dissent is as important as the right to life both of which are facing threats today. Besides the writers many others too strongly believe that the Akademi’s voicing dissent was right. The government has so far not taken any steps to rectify its fascist approaches which are likely to plunge the country into Dark Ages. The tragic incident of Dadri lynching was even politicised by the PM Modi in the Bihar elections. Akademi president Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari had initially critisised Sahgal saying there was ‘no logic’ in returning her award. He later softened down and called a meeting of the Akademi Council. It shows that the protests had paid off. The voices of dissent against the fascist forces would not go in vain. Those who dream of better India would surely play their part by joining this protest against fascism. The right to dissent and right to life are indispensible for man and it could all be achieved peacefully. The attainment of independence and freedom from the dark period of Emergency are sheer evidences for that.