“It is high time that writers take a stand”, Mr Vajpeyi, a former chairperson of the Lalit Kala Akademi, said. In India, writers are being murdered, innocent people are being killed, and his ministers are making objectionable statements…Why doesn’t he shut them up? “In memory of the Indians who have been murdered, in support of all Indians who uphold the right to dissent, and of all dissenters who now live in fear and uncertainty, I am returning my Sahitya Akademi Award”, said Sehgal, who in the past also strongly criticised imposition of the Emergency in 1975 by her cousin late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
NDTV reported that Hindi poet Uday Prakash, who won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2010 for his collection of short stories has also returned his award to protest the murders of rationalists.
“Why doesn’t he tell the nation that the pluralism of this country will be defended at every cost?”
“If the Sahitya Akademi jumps in and protests against the restriction of the freedom of speech then will it not divert from its primary work?” “The whole country wishes the Prime Minister to make a statement because the situation is getting more and more serious”.
Backing Sahgal, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that “cheap” political leaders are “attacking” the very soul of India by “decrying and denying” the country’s diversity.
“In all these cases, justice drags its feet”. The 88-year-old writer added, “The Prime Minister remains silent about this reign of terror”.
He also expressed disappointment over the failure of the Sahitya Akademi to “rise to the occasion” to protect the autonomy of writers.
Ms. Sahgal, the second of three daughters of Nehru’s sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit, was awarded the 1986 Sahitya Akademi Award for English, for her novel, Rich Like Us (1985).
She isn’t the first writer to take this step to return an award.