In memory of the Indians who have been murdered, in support of all Indians who uphold the right to dissent, and of all dissenters who now live in fear and uncertainty, I am returning my Sahitya Akademi Award.
Signed: Nayantara Sahgal, Dehra Dun, October 6, 2015
Noted writer Nayantara Sahgal, in her protest against “vicious assault” on India’s diversity, has returned the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award.
Sahgal, in a statement issued in New Delhi said that she has registered this protest in memory of the Indians who have been murdered and in support of all Indians who uphold the right to dissent and of all dissenters who live in fear and uncertainty.
Expressing concern over recent attacks against rationalists she said, “Rationalists who question superstition, anyone who questions any aspect of the ugly and dangerous distortion of Hinduism known as Hindutva — whether in the intellectual or artistic sphere, or whether in terms of food habits and lifestyle — are being marginalised, persecuted, or murdered”.
Ms. Sehgal while marking her protest and returning the honour, made a reference to the recent Dadri episode.
Muhammad Akhlaq, a resident of Bisara Village was lynched by a mob on the suspicion that beef was cooked in his home and rationalists M.M. Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare were also killed recently.
“In all these cases, justice drags its feet. The Prime Minister remains silent about this reign of terror. We must assume he dare not alienate evil-doers who support his ideology,” she added about Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s silence.
She also expressed her dismay at the silence of Sahitya Akademi; highlighting that the Akademis were set up as “guardians of the creative imagination, and promoters of its finest products in art and literature, music and theatre”.
She also recounted a recent statement made by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who made a reference to India’s Constitution, promising all Indians “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship”.
“The right to dissent is an integral part of this Constitutional guarantee. He found it necessary to do so because India’s culture of diversity and debate is now under vicious assault,” she said.