Returning awards not right way to protest, say Bengal writers
Some eminent writers and Sahitya Akademi award winners from West Bengal on Wednesday did not agree that returning awards was the correct way to protest against Dadri lynching and attacks against rationalists, saying protests should be organised on a mass scale.
Veteran Bengali poet Nirendranath Chakraborty, who won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1974 for “Ulanga Raja” described the return of the award by writers and poets as a “very feeble form” of protest against a matter which is “highly condemnable”.
“What has happened is highly condemnable... But I don’t think this is the right kind of protest for such demeaning actions. I don’t agree with this manner of protest. It’s a very feeble form of protest and seems to be like a child’s play,” Chakraborty said.
According to the 87-year-old poet, because of the fact that Sahitya Akademi is an autonomous body, return of awards bestowed by it will not address their concern.
Instead, he said, protests should be organised on a mass scale involving people irrespective of their age and class making them understand why and what for they should be involved in such demonstrations.
Echoing Chakraborty’s words, another Sahitya Academi <g data-gr-id="48">award winning</g> poet Shankha Ghosh said he did not agree to <g data-gr-id="46">returning</g> awards, but “there are other ways to lodge your protest”.
“I feel those who are returning their awards could have protested in a different way as Sahitya Akademi is not a government body,” he said.
“And the awards were not given by the present government... Give me a reason why I should return an award which was given to me some 40 years ago?” the 83-year-old poet, who received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1977 for “<g data-gr-id="47">Babarer</g> Prarthana”, wanted to know.
Noted writer Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, who was given the Sahitya Akademi in 1988 for his novel “Manabjamin”, described the return of awards as a ‘meaningless’ form of protest.
“I respect people's feelings of protest but returning awards is absolutely meaningless... I feel there will not be any effect by this kind of protest... People have received awards long back,” he said.
Writer Samaresh Majumder who won his Sahitya Akademi award for novel “Kaalbela” in 1984, reiterated the views of other writers and said the Akademi was an autonomous institution and the government had no role in the selection of recipients of the award.
“So I do not think this is the right kind of protest happening throughout the country. People have to regroup and organise a mass-scale protest against what is going on all around us. That will be a proper way of protest,” Majumdar felt.
Meanwhile, noted Bengali poet Mandakranta Sen has decided to return her Sahitya Akademi’s Young Writers’ Award to protest against communal attacks in the country.
Now, Bengali poet returns Sahitya Akademi award
Noted Bengali poet Mandakranta Sen on Wednesday returned her Sahitya Akademi Young Writers Special Award to protest against what she described as intolerance and communalism in the society.
Sen received the award in 2004 for her body of work in Bengali poetry.
She said a Muslim man's lynching in a Uttar Pradesh village over rumours that he ate beef and attacks on writers across the country were the direct reasons for her decision to return the honour.
Nearly two dozen authors have announced their decision to return their awards as a mark of protest since Mohammed Akhlaq was killed by a mob, and in the wake of murders of rationalists in the country.