Rajasthani writer Nand Bhardwaj also returns Sahitya Akademi award

Kolkata/Jaipur/New Delhi: Over 90 writers and intellectuals from West Bengal have written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention in the Dadri lynching incident and recent attacks on rationalists even as a Rajasthan writer returned his Sahitya Akademi award joining a list of over 30 authors protesting 'growing intolerance'.

In a related development, 17-year-old schoolgirl Ria Vithasa from Shimoga, Karnataka on Wednesday said she is handing over her Bal Sahitya award as she was pained by the killing of noted writer M M Kalburgi from the state.

In their letter to the President, the writers and intellectuals said, "We are horrified at the callous lack of support and apathy of the state in finding and bringing the culprits to justice. The stifling atmosphere of fear and uncertainty is fatal to the freedom of expression that is at the heart of our shared lives, and it is for the restoration of this common fabric that we urge you to intervene."

Among the 94 personalities who have signed the letter are poets Sankha Ghosh, Nirendranath Chakraborty, economists Ashok Mitra and Amiya Bagchi, theatre and film actor Kaushik Sen, authors Nabaneeta Deb Sen, Bani Basu, Shirshendu Mukherjee, Samaresh Majumdar, theatre maestro Rudraprasad Sengupta and painter Wasim Kapoor.

Rajasthani litterateur Nand Bhardwaj said he has returned his Akademi award, accusing the literary body of failing to protect the rights of writers.

In a letter to Secretary of Sahitya Akademi, Bhardwaj said he has also attached a cheque of Rs 50,000 which he got with the award in 2004.

"My sentiments are hurt the way M M Kalburgi was shot dead and Akademi is unable to do anything to protect the rights of writers and not even expressed any condolence on this serious issue", showing letter to media persons, the former DD Director, commented.

Not only writers, the common man was also feeling threatened in the present scenario where freedom of expression has been facing fundamentalist and communal challenges, he said, adding,"This is a protest against religious and creative intolerance which is rising in recent time."

At least 30 authors including Nayantara Sahgal and Ashok Vajpeyi have decided to return their Akademi awards and five writers have stepped down from official positions of the literary body, which in turn has convened an emergency meeting on October 23 to discuss the developments Hitting back at the writers who also protested against the Dadri lynching of a 50-year-old man over beef-eating rumours and the opposition to the Ghulam Ali concert in Mumbai, BJP today questioned their silence over past riots and killings.

By giving up their awards, these writers were doing a new kind of politics after their 'patrons' lost and it seemed like 'Congress sponsored', it said.

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