Rushdie has tweeted: “Alarming times for free expression in India.”
Booker Prize winning author Salman Rushdie on Monday joined the growing chorus of protests by writers and poets against spread of “communal poison” and “rising intolerance” in the country even as more authors decided to return their Sahitya Akademi awards.
“I support Nayantara Sahgal and the many other writers protesting to the Sahitya Akademi. Alarming times for free expression in India,” Mr. Rushdie tweeted.
Ms. Sahgal, niece of Jawaharlal Nehru, was among the first to lodge her protest against the Akademi’s silence over repeated attacks on writers and rationalists who were raising their voice of dissent.
Urdu novelist Rahman Abbas, Hindi writers Mangalesh Dabral and Rajesh Joshi have returned the Akademi awards in protest against “communal” atmosphere following rationalist M.M. Kalburgi’s killing.
Vadodara-based author and poet Anil Joshi said he would return the Akademi award.
Punjabi author Waryam Sandhu said he had intimated to the Akademi his decision to give back the award.
Delhi-based theatre artist Maya Krishna Rao returned her Sangeet Natak Akademi award in protest against Dadri lynching and the “rising intolerance” in the country.
The actor expressed her disappointment over the government’s failure to “speak up for the rights of citizens.”
Four more writers and poets from Punjab — Surjit Pattar, Baldev Singh Sadaknama, Jaswinder and Darshan Buttar — joined the protest against communal violence and said they were also returning their awards as a mark of protest.
Urdu writer Rahman Abbas said, “After the Dadri lynching, the Urdu writing community has been unhappy. Therefore, I decided to return the award. There are some other Urdu writers who also want to join the protest. It is high time we stood up to the injustice surrounding us.” “The communal poison is spreading in the country and the threat of dividing people looms large,” the writers warned.
Under fire from several quarters, the Akademi has called for a meeting of the Executive Board for October 23.
Kannada critic Rahamat Tarikeri has returned his Sahitya Akademi award in protest against the killing of Kalburgi and rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.
In a letter to the president of the Akademi, Mr. Tarikeri said: “It is sad that the Sahitya Akademi has not condemned the brutal murder of Kalburgi, an eminent scholar and Akademi award recipient. The killings of Pansare, Dabholkar and Kalburgi are an attempt to create an ‘intolerant society’. The recent Dadri lynching is also part of this intolerance. As a protest to the attack on free thinking and food liberty, I am herewith returning the award.”