Let us welcome protests as we welcomed Tagore surrendering his knighthood after Jalianwalala : Shantonu Sen

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It was a trickle to start with. Nayantara Sehgal and Ashok Bajpai were among the first few to return their Sahitya Academy Awards. Ostensibly, it was a response to the Dadri lynching of two long time residents, A father son duo were battered by this mob of angry villagers in Bisada or Bisara who were , falsely led to believe that the family ate cow meat .The father died on the spot. The son, a lad , barely in his twenties, continues to be treated . Admitted first to the local hospital, he is presently in a referral Army hospital in the Capital. This is courtesy his brother who is a Corporal in the Indian Air Force. This incident was on 28th September.

The twin protests, considered a storm in a tea cup has, bare twenty odd days later, become a tsunami for the Modi Government. When last counted thirty five distinguished our Country men including Sahitya Academy, Padma and other awardees have surrendered their awards. The existing climate of intolerance in the country is their reason for the step they have taken they have said.

This gesture has irked some of their colleagues who are distinguished and respected as much as they are. They include Anupam Kher, a thespian of note and Chetan Bhagan, a corporate honcho once but now a very popular writer in English and a future Sahitya Academy Member. They have called the step, surrender of awards, a hypocritical gesture solely made as they cannot stomach the Modi Raj. Now denied the patronage they have been used to so long from a particular family they have made this , in their eyes, a useless gesture. They are avowed and open supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP). The leaders of this Party have been furious. They have called the individuals, conspirators involved in a criminal conspiracy to defame a people’s party voted to power on its own only a year ago. They have tweeted , gone to their face book and made speeches , gone to town, in fact, suggesting there is more than that meets the eye in the act of return of awards one by one .One important Cabinet Minister while speaking to Karan Thapar made the comment that those who are surrendering their citations, medals are indulging in “ blackmail”

Their response must not be brushed aside, The ethical downslide, growing intolerance , arrogance of power, corruption all of which has resulted in repeated depravity in our society is certainly not the creation of the Party in power today. This has happened over a period o time. Long ago , way back in 1959 dynastic rule received sanction when a certain Indira Gandhi became President of the Indian National Congress. When the first Communist Government in Kerala was dismissed it was immoral . When Krishna Menon was protected it was the worst kind of nepotism. Emergency was and continues to be blot on our Constitution. Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984 were government sponsored to an extent. There is blood in the hands of many congress Party workers and leaders. Similarly Babri Masjid demolition and the country wide riots that followed, the Godhra and Ahmedabad communal carnages all which worsted one community alone were all signs of growing intolerance. There wasno rush to surrender awards then
All of above is true. But to what end. One evil act does not white wash another evil deed. Dadri, ink smeared Sudhindra Kulkarni or Ghulam Ali fiasco are not justified. They reflect intolerance which is growing because now its crystal clear that no political dispensation has acted against it decisively . The mollycoddling is growing, it appears unstoppable. There is apathy all round. There is a sense of helplessness among the passive majority who would like to live and grow in peace. Let us welcome this protest as we welcomed Tagore surrendering his knighthood after Jalianwalala and Kushwant Singh’s returning the Padma after 1984.It has hurt those who are now duty bound to act.

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