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Marathi writer returns awards to protest ‘intolerance’

Noted Marathi writer Pradnya Pawar on Tuesday said she was returning all her literary awards and prize money totaling Rs 1.13 lakh to the state government to protest the “culture of intolerance” in the country.

Pawar cited Dadri lynching and killing of rationalists Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi as instances that show “growing intolerance”. “I have taken the decision to protest against the intolerant attitude and ‘dandelashahi’ (dictatorship) in the country in the last one, one-and-half years,” she said.

“Those returning the awards have started a movement. My gesture is to boost this movement. Maharashtra has led intellectual movement in the country. I cannot understand why is there silence in the recent past. “More hands should come out in support of my stance,” she said.

Pawar has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis saying, “We are living in an era of undeclared emergency.” Urdu novelist Rahman Abbas, who lives in Mira Road near Mumbai, on Monday returned the Maharashtra State Urdu Sahitya Academy Award as a mark of protest against the Dadri lynching incident.

“After the Dadri lynching, the Urdu writing community has been quite unhappy. Therefore, I decided to return the award. There are some other Urdu writers who also want to join the protest. It is high time we stood up to the injustice surrounding us,” he said.

Abbas had in 2011 won the award for his third novel ‘Khuda Ke Saaye Mein Aankh Micholi’ (Hide and Seek in the Shadow of God). Earlier, noted writers Nayantara Sahgal and poet Ashok Vajpeyi had returned their literary honours to protest what they termed as an “assault on right to freedom of both life and expression”.

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