Marathi Writer Returns Awards to Protest

A group of Marathi writers on Friday (October 23) went to Mantralaya, the state secretariat here, to return their literary awards to protest the ‘culture of intolerance’ in the country. Noted writers Ganesh Visputay, Sambhaji Bhagat and Pradnya Pawar were among those who went to Mantralaya to return their awards. The writers went to the office of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, but were told that he was not in Mantralaya. They insisted on meeting the CM’s Principal Secretary Pravin Pardeshi and return the awards. Pawar, Marathi poet and feminist, who is among the prominent literary figures, who have decided to return various awards given to them by the state government, said the gesture was to protest against growing religious intolerance, ban on personal freedoms, and killing of rationalists. These writers are also urging other writers and artists to join the stir, which started after a man in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, was allegedly lynched by a mob last month following rumours that his family had been storing and consuming beef. Pawar, a former member of the Maharashtra State Literary and Cultural Board, said she had written to the Chief Minister that she was handing back five awards, including a cash prize of Rs 1.13 lakh. “Even at the national level, writers, poets and personalities from different fields have started returning Sahitya Akademi, Padma and other awards,” Pawar said. “This is not just a token protest. I have written to the Chief Minister and the Culture Minister about what we feel about the ban on food choices, killing of rationalists and endorsement of radical religious views in every sector, from education to art.” Visputay said he was giving back his two awards to protest against the “ban culture” promoted by politicians. He said the stir by writers, poets and other figures would spur the “silent society” to voice its anger.

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