In response to acclaimed Kannada theatre artiste and poet S Raghunandana's refusal to accept the Sangeet Natak Akademi award conferred on him, noted Indian writers have expressed their solidarity with him.
The Bengaluru-based artiste, in a statement released after the announcement of the awards on Tuesday, cited "mob lynching and violence in the name of God and religion" and held the "powers-that-be" directly or indirectly responsible.
In his statement, the acclaimed poet said, “This is not a protest. It comes out of despair, a helpless inability to accept the award. I respect the Akademi, and all those who have received this award, now and in the past. I thank the members of the Akademi, and apologise.”
The Sangeet Natak Akademi is the national level academy for performing arts set up by the Government of India.
Writers K Satchidanandan, Keki Daruwalla, Ganesh Devy, Ashok Vajpeyi, Nayantara Sahgal and Githa Hariharan have issued a statement have "saluted" this "act of protest".
"Since 2015, writers and artists have protested against the culture of intolerance and hatred promoted by the present rulers of India. This tide of protest continues.
"His open letter to the Akademi describes the acts of violence, abuse and vengeance that he is protesting against lynchings by gaurakshaks; the abuse of Dalits, Muslims and women; the vicious propaganda against intellectuals and the hounding of activists; and the further erosion of educational and public institutions since the general elections of 2019," the writers said in the statement issued on behalf of Indian Writers Forum.
In 2015, writers and intellectuals from across the country returned their awards citing growing intolerance in the country.
The statement by the writers also called on more writers and artists to "protest against the hate politics ruining our democratic polity and challenging our constitutional rights."
Raghunandana won the 2018 Sangeet Natak Akademi award, which carried a prize money of Rs 1 lakh, for direction. A total of 44 artistes, including him, have been announced as winners in categories of various performing arts.