More than two dozen writers have returned their awards against the murder of veteran Kannada writer Dr MM Kalburgi. Whose duty was it to provide security to Dr Kalburgi? His practising rational values had, no doubt, hurt the faith and sentiments of many. Therefore, the State administration — in this case Karnataka — should have spared no effort to provide a foolproof security cover. Law and order is a State subject and the State government should have been alert enough to keep its eyes and ears open in gathering intelligence in this behalf.
Recover full amount
The Sahitya Akademi awardees get many facilities which are permanent. Only 8 of the 28 writers who have announced to return the awards have sent letters in this regard to the Akademi, and only three have enclosed cheques of Rs one lakh each received by them as award money. The government should take harsh stand against such writers by initiating recovery-proceedings against them to recover award-money and other cost incurred by the Academy like publication of award-winning literature in many languages. All other honours including Padma awards should also be snatched from them as a deterrent against getting undue publicity after swallowing non-returnable benefits from Sahitya Akademi awards.
But, strangely, who is being targetted for blame and responsibility? Not the Congress government in Karnataka but the Modi government at the Centre? Who has chained the hands of Karnataka government to lay its hands on the culprit howsoever high or low he may be? If there has been laxity or failure, it is that of the Karnataka government and none else's. Surprisingly — and that is intriguing too — none of the protesting writers has expressed his/her dismay or worry at the failure of State government to so far lay its hands on the guilty.
Dadri killing is not something unprecedented, unheard of in the history of Independent Bharat. So about Kalburgi murder. The conscience of over two dozen eminent persons of literature got so severely pricked by these two incidents that they returned their awards in protest. Thousands of innocent Sikhs were brutally butchered in post-Indira assassination in 1984. About 59 karsevaks were burnt alive at Godhra railway station that sparked Gujarat riots. A few months back all the 16 policemen involved in the killing of 42 innocent Muslims were acquitted after 28 years. On August 9, 2007, 22 activists of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) led by some then Andhra Pradesh MLAs Afsar Khan, Ahmed Pasha and Mozum Khan, stormed the Press Club premises of the city and roughed up Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen. Nobody seems to have been brought to book so far. Da Vinci Code film and Salman Rushdie’s book Satanic Verses were banned in Bharat. The conscience of these litterateurs did not revolt against the assault of the Freedom of Opinion and Expression by the then governments. They were not moved by innocent killings during earlier regimes. Their then silence is now turning eloquent to give credence to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's charge that the revolt is a “manufactured revolt”.