Salman Rushdie backs writers as 7 more return Sahitya Academi Award

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Salman RushdieEven as seven more authors decided to return their Sahitya Akademi awards, Booker Prize winning author Salman Rushdie has backed the escalating protests by leading writers against spread of “communal poison” and “rising intolerance” in the country even as seven 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,” he tweeted.

The 88-year-old niece of Jawaharlal Nehru, Sahgal, 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. Three Kashmiri writers Ghulam Nabi Khayal, Urdu novelist Rahman Abbas and Kannada writer-translator Srinath D N, said, they were handing back their Sahitya awards.

In the protest, Khayal and Srinath were joined by Hindi writers Mangalesh Dabral, and Rajesh Joshi, who backed the spiralling protest by littérateur against “communal” atmosphere, following rationalist M M Kalburgi’s killing.

“I have decided to return the award. The minorities in the country are feeling unsafe and threatened. They feel their future is bleak,” Khayal said.

Punjabi author Waryam Sandhu, and Kannada translator G N Ranganatha Rao, said, they have intimated to the Akademi their decision to give back their awards.

At least 16 authors have announced their decision to return their awards with some warning that minorities in the country today feel “unsafe and threatened” till now. The writers also warned that the communal poison is spreading in the country and the threat of dividing people looms large.

The Akademi has called for a meeting of the Executive Board, on October 23. Sahitya Akademi President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari had said that the institution was committed to the core secular values enshrined in the Constitution of India.

Urdu writer Rahman Abbas said, after the Dadri incident, the Urdu writing community has been quite unhappy.

“After the Dadri lynching, the Urdu writing community has been quite 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,” he said.

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