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Theatre artist Maya Krishna Rao returns Sangeet Natak Academy award

New Delhi: Theatre artist Maya Krishna Rao on Monday returned her Sangeet Natak Akademy award in protest against the Dadri lynching case and the rising intolerance in the country.

In a letter addressed to Helen Acharya, the secretary of the Sangeet Natak Akademy, Rao expressed her disappointment.

“The present government has in spite of reminders from society, done little to stand up for the right of people to express their thoughts and ideas and love the way they would choose to in a free country,” she said.

“Rationalists, creative artists, thinkers, dissenters, activists have faced threats and even been murdered. On a carefully orchestrated malicious rumour in Dadri a village ironsmith was lynched and killed,” she added in the letter.

Rao has expressed her disappointment over the government’s failure to speak up for the rights of the citizens.

“It is yet to empathise and reassure the country that the basic values of independent thinking and way of life of people will be safeguarded at any cost,” she said.

“In all conscience, I cannot retain the Sangeet Natak Akademy Award in these circumstances, and hereby return it,” she added.

Two eminent writers GN Devy and Aman Sethi on Sunday announced that they were returning their Sahitya Akademi awards, joining the growing protest by litterateurs over “rising intolerance” and “communal” atmosphere, and the “silence” of the Sahitya Akademi over the killing of Kannada scholar M. M. Kalburgi.

Writer returned their awards after noted Kannada author Aravind Malagatti resigned from the Sahitya Akademi’s Common Council.

On August 30, two unidentified assailants allegedly shot dead Kalburgi (77) at his residence at Dharwad in north Karnataka.

On Friday, acclaimed writer Shashi Deshpande had resigned from the Sahitya Akademy, while other six writers returned their Arulu Sahitya awards to the Kannada Sahitya Academy on October 3 over the delay in the arrest of the accused in the murder of eminent Kannada writer, scholar, rationalist and academic, Kalburgi.