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Four more Punjabi littérateurs to return Akademi awards

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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.

(IANS)

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No connection between Pansare, Dabhodhar, Kalburgi murders, says govt

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New Delhi: While political pundits in India attributed the poor performance of the BJP in the Bihar polls to the ‘growing intolerance’ and the killing of rationalists Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi, the government in the Centre on Wednesday said, the gruesome incidents were not connected.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told Rajya Sabha that as per available information, there is no report to suggest any linkage/connection between the murders of Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi.

Speaking during the Question Hour, he further clarified that there was no proposal to outlaw the right-wing group Santhan Sanstha.

Santhan Sanstha came into the fore for all the wrong reasons when one of its activists was arrested for his alleged involvement with the murder of Pansare.

However, Sanathan Sanstha admitted that the accused was its member, but it rubbished any party’s role in the killing.

Rijiju further said that law enforcing agencies are constantly monitoring the activities of the organisation which are said to spread tension. The government is committed to ensuring maintenance of peace and communal harmony in the country, he added.

A left-wing politician and author, Pansare, was shot on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.  While Dabholkar was murdered on August 2013, Kalburgi was shot on August this year.

Several Sahitya Academy award winner denounced their prize for the government’s inaction to take speedy action against the culprit.

The government’s alleged failure to contain the situation drew flak from several quarters of the civil society. Besides, the ‘award wapsi‘ programme, there were other rallies and marches to protest the deaths.

The Lalu-Nitish coalition in Bihar made good use of the situation to stop the BJP juggernaut and leapfrogged the NDA to assume power in Bihar.

(With inputs from agencies)

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