8 more join list of disgruntled Maha intelligentsia, return awards
By Alka Dhupkar

Journalist and writer Ibrahim Afghan to return his Sahitya Akademi award, along with seven others, in protest of climate of intolerance.

Joining the ranks of a growing tribe of the disgruntled intelligentsia, who have returned their literary awards in protest of a climate of intolerance gaining root in the country, eight more writers and artistes from the state have decided to return their awards. This brings the total number of people who have returned their awards to 18.

Joining the stir started by Maharasthra Times journalist and writer Ibrahim Afghan, seven other writers and artistes have also said on Wednesday that they would return their awards that have received from the state and their cash prizes.

Afghan said that he would return both his Sahitya Akademi award and another award that he won for his writing in Urdu.

“I believe the voice of reason is the essence of the secular, democratic republic that India is. I stand by my writer brethren to raise the pitch for the same. I am fully aware that the environment of intolerance is nothing new for writers. However, I am taking this step as it is better late than never,” said Afghan.

Singer and musician Shahir Sambhaji Bhagat, who scored music for Court — India’s nomination to the Oscars –, has decided to return his award that he received this year for the film Nagarik. Bhagat told Mirror, “This is one more step in the protest against the killings of rationalists, Dadri lynching and the interference of the government in art, science, research, higher education and every other aspect of human life.”

Another senior writer, Rajeev Naik, has also declared the he will return his award from the state government that he received in 1989.

Journalist Mukund Kule has said that he wants to return two awards, along with a cash prize worth over one lakh, which he received for writing two books on his journalistic experiences.

“I have immense respect for these awards. But our nation has reduced freedom of expression to such a level that killings have become commonplace. Surveillance on each other’s food habits and a misleading knowledge of history are just visible avatars of this climate of growing intolerance,” he mentioned in a note.

Writer and critic Milind Malshe also said that he would return his award that he received from the state government.

“Human dignity and values have seized to exist in the current political and social atmosphere. What the Shiv Sena has done in Mumbai with Sudheendra Kulkarni is not acceptable at all, and the government’s response is unsatisfactory.”

Sayyed bhai, founder and former chairman of Muslim Satyshodhak Mandal, will also return his government award, and expressed concern about the inaction over the Sachhar Committee report.

Urmila Pawar, a prominent writer, is also returning her award given by the state. Mohan Patil from Jaisingpur has also written to the chief minister saying that he would return his award.

Sanjay Bhaskar Joshi has said that he will add a sum of Rs 80,000 to the prize money of Rs 20,000 and award that he would be returning, as a contribution to the chief minister’s drought relief fund.