Raising their voice against rising “intolerance” and “suppressing freedom of expression”, four eminent Punjabi writers on Sunday announced that they were returning the Sahitya Akademi Awards conferred on them.
The writers who announced giving up their literary awards included Ajmer Singh Aulakh, Atamjit Singh, Gurbachan Bhullar and Canada-based writer Waryam Sandhu.
The litterateurs said that they were giving up their awards to protest against the killings of writers M.M. Kalburgi in Karnataka (in August) and Narendra Dabholkar (in 2013), stressing that they were shocked at the level of intolerance on freedom of speech and expression. They pointed out that free speech and writing was being suppressed.
They also said that the recent lynching of a Muslim man on suspicion of eating beef showed that a communal atmosphere was being built up.