Rahman Abbas is a noted Urdu novelist and Maharashtra State Sahitya Academy Award winner. He has decided to return the award to the State protesting against the growing communal violence and murderous intolerance in the country. He has posted this open letter on Oct 7, 2015 on his facebook page.
Friends and fellow writers,
The social and political scenario of our beloved country is worsening with every passing day. Right wing forces have polarized nation in the name of religion, caste and ethnicity for political gains. Dissent is systematically crushed and rational thinkers and writers are threatened and brutally killed in broad daylight. The central and state governments don’t show any eagerness to hold and punish murderers of Narendra Dabholkar, Comrade Govind Pansare and Prof Kalburgi. The State is seemingly hesitant and hiding behind various excuses from banning organizations, which had reportedly played clandestine role in heinous crimes.
Against this rampant violence, intolerance and anarchy Hindi writer Uday Prakash, English novelist Nayantara Sahgal, Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi have returned Sahitya Academy Awards. Nayantara Sahgal had said yesterday that returning award was a protest against ‘vicious assault’ on Indian’s diversity, whereas Ashok Vajpeyi had reacted that ‘It is high time that writers take a stand.’ Vajpeyi had further said that Sahitya Academy had failed to rise to the occasion and respect its autonomy.
Moreover, on the 4 October six Kannada writers had returned literary awards in protest over delay in the inquiry into murder of Prof Kalburgi. The Kannada writers, Veeranna Madiwalar, T. Satish Javare Gowda, Sangamesh Menasinakai, Hanumanth Haligeri, Shridevi V Aloor and Chidanand Sali were conferred state Sahitya Academy Awards in the year 2011. These authors had returned awards to put pressure on the state govt to hasten the probe and nab the culprits behind the murder of Prof Kalburgi.
This is high time, as said by Ashok Vajpeyi, and we cannot remain voiceless. Hence, I request senior Urdu writers, poets and critics including Nida Fazli, Salam Bin Razzak, Abdus Samad, Javid Akhtar, Gulzar, Munawwar Rana, to register protest against murder and killing of creative writers by returning Sahitya Academy Awards. This might be a small step but in such volatile times, it is inescapable. It is our duty to raise voice against fascism, right wing intolerant forces and lawlessness which was promoted as a strategy to divide country on the lines of religion, sentiments of segments and dogmatic cultural doctrines.
I am an ordinary person. However, in the year 2013, I was awarded by State Sahitya Academy on my third novel ‘Khuda Ke Saaye Mein Ankho Micholi’ (Hide and Seek in the Shadow of God), hereby I announce that I am going to return this award to the state. I demand that the state punish forces who had killed Narendra Dabholkar and Comrade Pansare. I demand central govt to hold forces responsible who had instigated mob who killed Mr Akhlaq in Dadri. I urge senior Urdu writers to take a stand as this is high time and our secular democracy is under attack.
My friends and fellow writers, history will judge you for your stances taken at such high times. Don’t disappoint me.