Government must act responsibly: Nayantara Sahgal on threats to writers

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New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) Nayantara Sahgal, who kickstarted the awardwapsi protest in 2015 by returning her Sahitya Akademi award, has welcomed the official statement by Indias National Academy of Letters that condemned threats against writers and, speaking to IANS, said that the centre must “act responsibly” too.

“I am very glad to hear the statement from the Sahitya Akademi because their strong support is crucial for writers at this juncture when they are facing so much of trouble. We hope that the Sahitya Akademi gets a positive reply from the Prime Minister too,” the 91-year-old Sahgal said.

A member of the Nehru-Gandhi family and a constant face in the protest against the alleged intolerance in the country, Sahgal is a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award (1986), Britain’s Sinclair Prize for fiction (1985) and the Commonwealth Writers Award (Eurasia/1987).

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She said that writers and artists are often “alone” in their journey and therefore the role of institutions such as the Sahitya Akademi in “protecting their rights” is of “utmost importance”.

“If these kinds of threats go on, writers will not be able to write anything. The central government should do so (condemn threats against writers) because they have not. Maybe this is encouraging those who threaten them (writers),” she said.

Expressing dismay at the manner in which Goa’s award winning writer Damodar Mauzo and Malayalam novelist S. Hareesh have been threatened, the much acclaimed writer of “Rich Like Us” hoped that the writing fraternity would be able to “speak in one voice”.

“I hope we are able to return to a society where the power of words is respected and writers are able to live and write freely,” the veteran writer said.

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Sahgal is the second of the three daughters born to Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. She was also a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, Washington, from 1981 to 1982.

Her last novel “When The Moon Shines By The Day” is a dystopian satire that draws a telling portrait of our times.

–IANS

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