WE, the writers, reading public and cultural activists who have assembled at the gate of Sahitya Akademi on the occasion of its Executive Board meeting dated 23-10-2015 express our protest and angst against the ever growing fascistic tendencies and violent intolerance in the country which has posed a danger to freedom of expression and other civil liberties guaranteed by our nation’s Constitution.
We express our solidarity with all those eminent writers and cultural activists who have taken a historic initiative of protest by way of returning Akademi awards, other awards or by writing protest letters to the President of the Akademi or by issuing their statements to the press and media against the political atmosphere of murders and violence which needs condemnation from all quarters. We demand of the Executive Board of the Akademi as follows:
- The Board should condemn in unambiguous terms this atmosphere of intolerance and violence that is taking a toll of freedom of expression and other civil liberties. One may note that the President of India recently expressed publicly his concern over this state of affairs twice.
- The Board should express its firm resolve to safeguard the autonomy of Akademi that itself is in peril and by way of adopting a resolution it should ensure that at this moment of threat to freedom of expression and right to dissent the Akademi will not hesitate to take a firm initiative to safeguard the constitutional rights of writers.
- The Board should condemn the attitude of Akademi President, Dr. Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari that manifest itself in his interviews and statements on this issue. He terms the act of returning Akademi awards as ‘illogical’ and holds that if writers have some problem with the Government, why should they target Akademi for it. We may remind him that after the assassination of Prof. M. M. Kalburgi, Akademi failed even to express its condolences. When a delegation of 12 writers of various organisations met him on 16th September with the request to hold a condolence meeting for Prof. Kalburgi at New Delhi, he refused to do so. Thus he timidly evaded his duty at this historic juncture to stand firmly on the side of those who love their freedom of creative expression and right to dissent. Moreover, Dr. Tiwari issued an insulting statement saying that Akademi obliged writers by printing their books in various languages, thus they earned money and fame. The fact is that Akademi earned more than the royalty given to the writers. This type of shameful attitude needs condemnation from the Executive Board. In case he does not apologise for this arrogance and rudeness, the Board should pass a resolution against him and demand of his resignation.
The Executive Board should resolve to hold a condolence meeting for Prof. Kalburgi at Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi and thus take a firm stand against the acts of violence and murders of writers so as to safeguard the freedom of expression and civil liberties.