• This is not free India: Sarah Joseph returns her Sahitya Akademi Award

    Sarah Joseph join an increasing number of writers and poets who have returned honours and given up positions in recent weeks. Joseph is returning the Sahitya Akademi Award that she got in 2003.

    “There is a growing fear and lack of freedom under the present government,” said the writer who had won the award for her Malayalam novel Alahayude Penmakkal.

    Earlier, Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi and writer Nayantara Sahgal had announced their decisions to return the Sahitya Akademi awards, as a mark of protest to the “assault on right to freedom of both life and expression”.

    Condemning the murder of rationalist writer MM Kalburgi and the mob killing of a 50-year-old man in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri allegedly over rumours that he had eaten beef, she said, “Writers are being killed, people are being killed, ghazal singers are not being allowed to perform – this is not the free India I have lived in.”

    “The Sahitya Akademi has remained silent over all of this, when it should have been the first to speak out. I am returning my award in protest,” Ms Joseph said.

    Joining her, another noted poet from Kerala K Satchidanandan, resigned from his official posts in Sahitya Akademi committees. He had earlier asked the Akademi to pass a resolution against them killing of Mr Kalburgi.

    Ms Joseph is the latest to join protest by writers and poets who have resigned and turned down honours in recent weeks. Yesterday, novelist Shashi Deshpande offered her resignation from the Sahitya Akademi General Council denouncing “growing intolerance” in the country. Urdu novelist Rehman Abbas also returned his 2011 Sahitya Akademi Award on the same day.

    Sarah Joseph (born 1946) is a novelist and short story writer in Malayalam. She won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award for her novel Aalahayude Penmakkal (Daughters of God the Father).

    She also received the Vayalar Award for the same novel.

    Sara has been at the forefront of the feminist movement in Kerala and is the founder of Manushi (organisation of thinking women). She and Madhavikutty are considered among the leading women writers in Malayalam. She joined the Aam Aadmi Party in 2014 and contested the 2014 parliament elections from Thrissur.

    Join Us on https://www.facebook.com/SheThePeoplePage

    Follow Us on https://twitter.com/SheThePeopleTV