[Munawwar Rana (left) announced his decision to return award on live tv, whereas Khaleel Mamoon informed academy secretary via e-mail.]
Mumbai: Joining about fifty protesting scholars, academicians, poets and writers, Munawwar Rana and Khaleel Mamoon - two leading figures of the Urdu literary world, returned their Sahitya Academy Award to protest against the rampant intolerance, murders of writers and escalating communal violence in the country.
While Munawwar Rana - a big name in contemporary Urdu poetry, announced his decision to return his Sahitya Academy Award during a live television show, Kahlil Mamoon - a former IPS officer, sent an e-mail to the academy secretary informing him about his decision.
Participating in a televised debate with other writers and politicians, Munawwar Rana said he had decided to return the award because he was disappointed with the present developments in the country.
"I have no interest in awards. Never did I submit any of my writings for any award." Rana said.
“I come from Rae Bareli, politics and power run through the street drains in my city but I never cared for them” he added.
While announcing his decision to return the award, Munawwar Rana also gave a cheque of Rs.100,000/-. Rana also announced that he will not accept any award from the government in future.
At the same time, Rana while stating that a "bigger revolution" was needed to protest against the country's present situation, said he is ready to go on an indefinite hunger strike.
"One should bring about a bigger revolution. It is only when litterateurs sit on strike that Saraswati will be revered in this country the way Lakshmi is", he said.
Khaleel Mamoon, a former IPS officer with Karnataka police, was conferred Sahitya Academy Award for his collection of poems titled “Aafaq ki Taraf” (Towards the Horizon) in 2011.
Informing the Sahitya Academy secretary Srinivas about his decision to return the award via e-mail, Khaleel Mamoon said he was feeling 'suffocated' in the situation currently prevailing in the country.
Mamoon, who served as chairman of the Karnataka Urdu Academy till 2010, also criticised the silence of the Sahitya Academy over the killing of writers.
About fifty litterateurs have so far announced their decision to return their awards as a mark of protest. They said that the recent lynching of a Muslim man on suspicion of eating beef showed that a communal atmosphere was being built up.
The litterateurs also said that they were giving up their awards to protest against the killings of writers M.M. Kalburgi in Karnataka (in August) and Narendra Dabholkar in Maharashtra (in 2013), stressing that they were shocked at the level of intolerance on freedom of speech and expression. They contended that free speech and writing was being suppressed.