October 15, 2015, Panaji
Sahitya Akademi Award winning Authors from Goa who include senior poet Nagesh Karmali, Novelist Damodar Mauzo, Pundalik Naik, N. Shivdas, Datta Damodar Naik, Ramesh Veluskar, Meena Kakodkar, Hema Naik, Dilip Borkar, Gokuldas Prabhu, Mahabaleshwar Sail, Prakash Padgaonkar, Arun Sakhardande and Tukaram Seth and Padmashri awardee Maria Aurora Couto and Amitav Ghosh strongly condemned the rising trend of intolerance in the country which threatens freedom of expression thus threatening the age-old liberal and all-encompassing philosophical traditions of this country. In a joint statement issued at a press conference held in Panaji, the writers while voicing their concern stated, “ We are greatly disturbed by the recent murders of the rationalist intellectuals : Dabholkar, Pansare & Kalburgi followed by the recent lynching of a Muslim over suspected beef eating. The right wing fanatics have disrupted the music concert and book publication of the Pakistani musician and writer.
During the last eighteen months in particular the rabid fundamentalist forces have torn apart composite cultural mosaic of this country. If not contained, they will turn this country into a graveyard of creativity. This will kill scientific temperament and literary and cultural renaissance, ultimately stalling the economic progress of this nation.
The economic progress as witnessed in the United States of America is not just due to the economic reforms. The fountainhead of Silicon Valley is the liberal, tolerant and forward-looking perspective of the society.
Konkani Sahitya Akademi awardees have shown their solidarity to those who have returned the awards or resigned from the membership in protest. ‘However, to express our concern in one solid voice and to demand from Sahitya Akademi the official condemnation of the threat to our fundamental rights is more imperative at this juncture.’ Now, that the President of Sahitya Akademi has convened an Extra Ordinary Executive Council Meeting the next week, ‘We are hopeful that Sahitya Academy will unequivocally condemn the murders of the rationalist intellectuals and scuttling of the freedom of expression and demand stringent government measures against the growing cultural terrorism that suffocates the literary & cultural expression of the creative artists of this great country.’
Some of us wanted to return the awards but we have withheld the decision in view of Sahitya Akademi’s incoming Executive Council meeting where the Akademi is hopefully expected to condemn the cultural Talibanism in the country.
October 17, 2015
Shri Vishwanath Pratap Tiwari-Ji,
President, Sahitya Akademi,
Dear President Sir,
As you are aware, I have a great regard for Sahitya Akademi, the institution that gave me eminence and taught me to be righteous. The Akademi is not merely a National Academy of Letters but it also serves as VOICE of the Writers' fraternity of this country. Having served a term at Sahitya Akademi as a member of the Executive Board, General Council and Finance Committee, I have personally experienced the veneration and expectations with which the people viewed at the institution.
You are right in saying that the writers should aim their rage at the Government rather than the Akademi. However, I sincerely feel that following the assassination of Professor M. M. Kalburgi, Sahitya Akademi should either have come out with a strong condemnation over the killing or should have convened an emergency EB meeting to assess the situation wherein the life of writers is threatened by the fundamentalist forces. Sahitya Akademi, a body of eminent writers as she is, cannot remain silent on the issues pertaining to the scuttling of Freedom of Expression.
I am happy that the Akademi has convened an EB meeting, though belatedly. I strongly feel that the Executive Committee has to come out expressing its serious concern over the prevailing threat to the creativity of the free thinking writers and the rising rate of intolerance in the country. It is the duty of the Akademi to safeguard the interests of the writers' community and also ensure safety to the lives of its members. A strong message has to go to those in power that this writers' body will not tolerate any threat to their freedom. We should also urge the Government to adopt stringent measures to curb the moral policing by the protagonists of monoculturism who are emboldened by the mute stand taken by the law and order keepers.
I sincerely feel that the Akademi will take the right decisions that will enhance our faith in its autonomy.