Noted historian from Uttarakhand Shekhar Pathak on Monday announced his decision to return Padma Shri in protest against what they call the “atmosphere of growing intolerance” in the country. He is the second eminent personality from Uttarakhand to return his award after noted writer Nayantara Sahgal. Announcing the decision at the ongoing 4th Nainital Film Festival which got underway in the tourist town today, Pathak said his move was in “protest against the atmosphere of growing intolernace in the country and the neglect of the Himalayan region”.
He said being the son of the Himalayas returning the award was also his way of registering his protest against the “loot” of its resources. A historian, writer and academician from Uttarakhand, Pathak was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007. Also known for his concern for the environment, he founded “People’s Association for Himalaya Area Research (PAHAR), a Nainital-based a non-profit organization for research on Himalayan people, established in 1983. He also edits an annual journal published by it.
In 2007, he took up a three-year project to study the Himalayan people along with Magsaysay Award winner, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, traversing the Himalayas, from Leh to Arunachal.