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Benguluru: Eminent writer and Padma Shri-awardee Shashi Deshpande on Friday resigned from the Sahitya Akademi’s Governing Council.

She was disappointed with the literary body’s failure to protest against the murder of noted Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi and all such acts of “violent intolerance”.

The Bengaluru-based writer, in her letter to Akademi president Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari, said: “Silence is a form of abetment. If the Akademi, the premier literary organisation in the country, cannot stand up against such an act of violence against a writer, if the Akademi remains silent about this attack on one of its own, what hope do we have of fighting the growing intolerance in our country?”

Kalburgi, who was shot dead at his Dharwad residence recently, was not only an Akademi awardee but also a member of its Governing Council.

Deshpande described Kalburgi as “a good and honest human being.” The daughter of famous Kannada dramatist Sriranga said: “Each individual has his own means of



expression. As writers, we need to show our support for any other writer who gets harassed and is troubled.” She said this when asked what she thought writers should do in an atmosphere of intolerance.

Her decision to quit the governing council follows the decision of the eminent author and Jawaharlal Nehru’s niece Nayantara Sahgal as well as noted Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi to return their Sahitya Akademi awards in protest against the spate of attack on those speaking against Hindutva ideology.

In her letter, Deshpande said the Akademi could have played an important role and “served its purpose” at a time when it had become “increasingly” important to reaffirm that differences of opinion cannot be ended with a bullet and discussion and debate were the only ways to resolve issues in “a civilised society”.

Sahitya Akademi president Tiwari told that  the executive board would decide at its upcoming meeting in December what should be done to address the issues being raised by eminent litterateurs.


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