Noted Indian poet and Odia litterateur Jayanta Mahapatra on Sunday said that he will return his Padma Shri award in protest against "the growing moral asymmetry" in the country.
The Times of India reported that Mahapatra wrote a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee in which he said, "Mine is a small, insignificant step. But it's my personal way of showing protest against growing moral asymmetry in the country ... My act should not be considered as any kind of dishonour to the country ."
Mahapatra told TOI, "It's a personal decision. I thought for a long time but some incidents hurt me so much that I decided to return the award. Everyday something or the other is coming out in newspapers. You cannot eat this, you cannot eat that. It hurts me."
Apart from Mahapatra, three more individuals have returned their Padma awards on similar grounds. While Punjabi writer Dalip Kaur Tiwana and Kannada litterateur Devanuru Mahadeva returned their Padma Shri, scientist PM Bhargava had returned his Padma Bhushan last month, adds the report.
"My protest is not against a particular party. I am as much hurt by Dadri issue, Jayalaithaa’s police arresting Kovan as well as utterances of Assam Governor on Hindustan (being) for Hindus. I believe there is genuine curtailment of freedom," the 87-year-old poet told The Indian Express.
Mahapatra, who also received a Sahitya Akademi Award in 1981, told The Hindu that he won't return that award since it was given to him by the Akademi and not by the government.