Bengaluru (PTI) Citing ‘rising intolerance’ in the country, noted Kannada litterateur and social activist Devanur Mahadeva today said he would be returning his Padma Shri and Sahitya Akademi awards.
He said returning of these awards now was only a gesture as he would be unable to return the indirect benefits he has enjoyed from these awards and feels constricted for it.
“Against my personal behaviour, I remained patient even as many authors and literary figures returned their awards, raising their voice against intolerance in the country, but I’m feeling disgusted after few writers and artists stood in support of those in power,” Mahadeva said in a statement.
He alleged that the principles of free speech, tolerance and social justice on which India gained independence has been shrinking after the Nehruvian period.
“These principles are the breath for cultural and social India that we have to construct, but unfortunately there is intolerance spreading in the country without understanding any of this,” Mahadeva added.
Known for his work in Dalit literature, he was honoured with Kendra Sahitya Akademi award for his novel “Kusuma Baale” in 1990 and conferred with Padma Shri in 2011.
Mahadeva, without naming anybody, also criticised leaders of the Union Government for branding return of awards by literary personalities as their intolerance against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He said those forces spreading intolerance in the country feel ‘protected’ by the central government, because of which they are openly indulging in acts that are disturbing peace.
“Current central government will have to introspect about this to be able to provide good governance,” he added.
Mahadeva’s important works include Dyavanuru, Odalaala, Kusuma Baale and Edege Bidda Akshara, among others.