Chandigarh: Noted Punjab-based poet Surjit Patar was among the four littérateurs who announced on Monday that they will return their Sahitya Akademi awards to protest against the growing atmosphere of intolerance in the country.
Besides Patar, the other three poets and writers who announced that they would return their awards were Jaswinder Singh, Baldev Singh Sadaknama and Darshan Bhuttar.
In a joint statement, Jaswinder Singh, Sadaknama and Bhuttar said that they were giving up their awards “to protest against the atmosphere of terror which was being created” by certain elements.
Patar told media that he was giving up the award, “which is close to my heart with a heavy heart” due to recent happenings in the country.
On Sunday, well-known Punjabi writers who announced giving up their literary awards included Ajmer Singh Aulakh, Atamjit Singh, Gurbachan Bhullar and Canada-based writer Waryam Sandhu.
All the Punjabi writers have said that they were raising their voice against rising “intolerance” and “suppressing freedom of expression”.
The litterateurs said that they were giving up their awards to protest against the killings of writers MM Kalburgi in Karnataka (in August) and Narendra Dabholkar (in 2013), stressing that they were shocked at the level of intolerance on freedom of speech and expression. They pointed out that free speech and writing was being suppressed.
They also said that the recent lynching of a Muslim man on suspicion of eating beef showed that a communal atmosphere was being built up.