The Protests against growing intolerance by writers just never seem to end. The intolerance row have now cast a shadow on the forthcoming Bangalore Literature Festival with three noted Kannada writers deciding to stay away from the Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF) 2015 scheduled for December 5 and 6 at Bengaluru.
This move was taken by writers after Bangalore Literature Festival director Vikram Sampat in an article criticised the returning of awards in the wake of ‘growing intolerance’ in the country.
He had questioned why no awards were returned when rationalists were killed and books were banned. Sampat termed the writers as ‘sheep’.
As many three noted Kannada writers, OL Nagabhushana Swamy, Prof Arif Raza and Dayananda TK, have withdrawn from the event and said Sampat criticism wording is neither intellectual nor academic in spirit” and questioned the political leanings of Sampat.
Sampat said in the article, “It is intriguing that the writer community was largely silent when books were banned, authors attacked, and rationalists killed. Why the selective outrage, as though apocalypse has descended on us as far as freedom of expression is concerned? Intolerance and violence against a contrary opinion is not a sudden phenomenon in India.” Arif Raja called Sampat’s comments ‘politically motivated and childish’.
Shivaram Karanth had returned his Padma award and Chandrashekar Patil (Champa) had lost his job because he opposed Indira Gandhi, said Arif Raja. Dayanand TK, said in his letter that he had misgivings about some of the sponsors of the festival.
He also said he did not want to be part of a literature fest whose principal organisers ‘don’t understand the sentiment and the feeling of terror’ that forced the country’s intellectuals to speak out.
Famous Malayalam writer K Sachidanandan, said he too refused to be part of BLF this year, coming out in support of Raja and Dayanand.
The process of returning awards started when Hindi writer Uday Prakash returned the Sahitya Akademi award in September 2015 to protest against the Akademi’s “indifference” over the murder of intellectuals such as M M Kalburgi. Nearly three dozen writers have since returned their prizes to the Akademi.