Renowned Hindi poet and author Ashok Chakradhar has hit out at those returning Sahitya Akademi awards to protest against alleged rising intolerance in the country. In a Facebook post, especially aimed at his colleague and one of the award returnees Munawwar Rana, Mr. Chakradhar has questioned the wisdom of those who are taking this route to protest against the claimed issues of tolerance and free speech.
Ashok Chakradhar wonders why Munawwar Rana, who himself had declared that those returning awards were “tired” people who had given up faith on their writing, suddenly did the same a few days later.
Chakradhar suspects that there was mix of political and communal pressure on Rana, which forced him to go back on his own conviction and return his Sahitya Akademi award. In his post, Chakradhar claims that minds of Muslims have been poisoned into believing that they are not safe in India, and this aspect might have forced Rana to return the award.
Ashok Chakradhar reminds Munawwar Rana what Rana had replied when someone in Pakistan had asked him if he, a Muslim, felt safe in Hindu majority India. Then Rana had said that he had nothing to fear because ‘70 crore Hindus were ready to defend him’.
Chakradhar asks Rana why he has suddenly lost faith on those 70 crore Hindus and had become afraid of just 70 odd hate mongers.
Ashok Chakradhar then makes a public appeal to Munawwar Rana to not let this discourse of fear become the fear of one community. He reminds everyone that it is the duty of poets and writers to make sure that there is peace and brotherhood in the country even if some people were indulged in hate mongering.
Mr. Chakradhar says that poets and writers should neither get overwhelmed by any fear nor let anyone else get overwhelmed by it. Fear should be resisted, not exaggerated, he says. Divisive politics has to be fought with pen, not by getting consumed by it or by being paranoid, he further says.
Chakradhar also indirectly blames the media for exaggerating events and creating an atmosphere of fear in the country. He says that poets and writers should make common people aware of this ‘game of TRP’. Perhaps that is the reason this statement by Ashok Chakradhar has not made headlines yet in the mainstream media.