Do not politicise Sahitya Akademi, says chairperson

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Sahitya Akademi chairperson Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari said authors should “protest in a different manner” and not politicise the body itself.

He said this following writer Nayantara Sehgal and poet Ashok Vajpeyi deciding to return their their Sahitya Akademi Awards over the Dadri issue and assault on right to freedom.

“The Akademi is not a government organisation, but an autonomous body. The award is given to an author for a chosen work. There is no logic in returning the award similar to Padma awards,” said Tiwari.

Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi on 7 October had returned the Sahitya award given in 1994 for his poetry collection ‘Kahin Nahin Wahin’ to protest the “assault on the right to freedom of life and expression” and said that the Akademi had remained silent over the issue.

On 6 October, referring to the Dadri lynching, Sehgal had announced her decision to return the Akademi award, and the killings of Kannada writer MM Kalburgi and rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.

“The Akademi translates the winning work into various languages and the writer is felicitated and prestige. Even if the writer returns the prize, what about the goodwill earned?” asked Tiwari.

Himself a renowned Hindi poet, writer and critic, Tiwari appealed to the writers to adopt a different manner of protest and not drag the Akademi into politics. Even during the Emergency, the Akademi didn’t take a stand, he said.

“I understand the writers are opposing not against the Akademi, but the government. So should the Akademi get into this agenda and leave behind its literary work?” Tiwari asked.

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