Returning award only way to protest: Gulzar

Patna: Noted lyricist Gulzar has come out in support of authors returning their Sahitya Akademi awards in protest of the growing religious intolerance in the country, saying this is the only way a writer can register protest.

Many writers have returned their Akademi awards to protest the killing of Kannada writer M M Kalburgi and other growing instances of attacks on intellectuals.

Gulzar, 81, said while the killing was not Akademi’s fault, the authors wanted the institution to recognise and protest against the incident.

“The murder that has hurt us all is somewhere the fault of the system/government… Returning the award was an act of protest. Writers don’t have any other way to register their protest. We have never witnessed this kind of religious intolerance. At least, we were fearless in expressing ourselves,” Gulzar said.

Expressing concern over the growing instances of communal intolerance, he rubbished claims that the writers decision to return the award was politically motivated.

“Never thought that a situation like this would come where a person’s religion is asked before his name. It was never like this… What politics can a writer do? A writer just speaks from his heart, mind and soul. They are the conscience keepers of the society. They are the keepers of the soul of the society,” he said.

In the wake of the authors’ protest, the Sahitya Akademi finally passed a unanimous resolution yesterday appealing to state and central governments to take steps to prevent such incidents and asked authors to take back the awards they had returned to protest against “rising intolerance”.