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Shrinking space for freedom of expression and growing intolerance towards difference of opinion has become a boiling issue from the last few months. The death of the writer M.M. Kalburgi and rationalists Narendra Dabolkhar and Govind Pansare has forced the artists to break their silence and decry their hard earned awards and denounce their reputed positions in a symbolic protest! Beginning from the notable writers as Nayantara Sehgal, Uday Prakash, Ashok Vajpeyi, Ghulam Nabi Khayal, G.S. Bhullar etc..the protesting gesture proliferated gradually into a mass movement including many other reputed writers!
With our hurried lifestyle merely glancing at the news headlines is what keeps us updated. It was not until my sister acquainted me with the importance of this gesture that I realized the grievousness behind the issue. Not to sleep over my worries I began pondering over the same and being a scholar of literature could see the tears of hard decision behind it. Nobody thought of their courageousness, nobody ventured into their wounded conscience, nobody pondered about their pen. Rather on their step was barred with multiple questions as to why were they just returning their awards as a mark of protest and not the prize money? What triggered them to protest today, as this has been happening over since ages? Is there any hidden motive behind it? Being writers could they not have used writing as a medium of protest? what about the credibility and goodwill which they have earned through these awards? etc. It is so bizzare to give airs to their way of protest rather than thinking about the urgency and compulsion behind it!
Perturbed by the attempts to ‘disrupt the social fabric of the country’ as manifested by continuous incidents of murders of the writer MM Kalburgi, thinkers Dabolkhar and Pansare along with the lynching of a Muslim man by a Hindu mob on suspicion of his having consumed beef became a pervasive concern of these artists and thus forced them to relinquish their prestigious moment as a symbolic protest!
Moreover, the proliferated writers and cultural activists tying black gags and arm bands at a solidarity march yelled through their silenced voices to the academy to break their silence over the issue. Writer Nayantara Sahgal who was amongst the pioneers of this landmark movement believes that the murder of the renowned writer was amongst other incidents with people being killed for not agreeing with the ruling[party’s] ideology. However, it did not take a second to come up with a comeback against this as it was called the ‘hypocrisy of the leftists’!
Ever since India became a democracy it empowered everyone to speak/act and there has always been a group of people who differ from the herd popularly known as radicalist and these people have always been under surveillance due to their views and acts to make a difference!
So the need of the hour is not to accuse each other of being defile rather to join hands to understand the root cause of the problem and liberate people by respecting their opinions!