Mumbai: Declaring writers and artistes were free to criticize the government, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday appealed to them to take back the national awards they had returned in protest against what they called a "culture of intolerance".
"We have respect for the writers who have returned their awards. But nothing will be achieved by this," said Fadnavis at a Meet The Press organised by the Mantralaya & Vidhimandal Vartahar Sangh to mark his government's first anniversary.
Last week, eight prominent writers decided to return their awards, while 13 top film-makers also returned their national awards.
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis
Fadnavis declared that the writers are welcome to pull up the government if they felt anything is going wrong as they hold a mirror to the society through their writings.
"They inspire society through their words... If they return the awards, they will achieve nothing. I appeal to them to take back their awards and we shall restore the honour again," he said.
He reiterated that litterateurs enjoy complete freedom of speech and expression in the state while arts and culture have ample scope to flourish in Maharashtra.
Last week, prominent writers like Ganesh Vispute, Sambhajai Bhaga, Harishchandra Thorat, Pradnya Pawar, Milind Malshe, Yeshu Patil, Vasant Patankar, Urmila Pawar and Mukund Kale returned their various state honours, joining their counterparts across the country.
In another dramatic development last Wednesday, 13 leading filmmakers announced in Mumbai they were returning their national awards and honours.
They are: Anand Patwardhan, Dipankar Banerjee, Paresh Kamdar, Nishtha Jain, Kirti Nakhwa, Harshavardhan Kulkarni, Hari Nair, Rakesh Sharma, Indraneel Lahiri, Lipika Singh Darai, Vikrant Pawar, Rakesh Shukla and Prateek Vats.