Punjabi writer announces return of Padma Shri

Chandigarh, Oct 13 (IANS) Amid the growing number of litterateurs giving up their literary awards over growing intolerance and attempts to muzzle freedom of speech and expression, eminent Punjabi writer Dalip Kaur Tiwana on Tuesday announced she will return the Padma Shri award conferred on her.

Patiala-based Tiwana, a noted novelist and short-story writer, said that she was returning the honour conferred on her to highlight the wrong things being done in the country.

She said that her action, and that of others returning their literary awards, would make intellectual people aware of what was wrong with the country.

Tiwana was conferred the award in the field of literature and education in 2004.

At least eight litterateurs from Punjab have announced that they were returning their literary (Sahitya Akademi) awards.

These include Surjit Patar, Jaswinder Singh, Baldev Singh Sadaknama, Darshan Bhuttar, Ajmer Singh Aulakh, Atamjit Singh, Gurbachan Bhullar and Canada-based writer Waryam Sandhu.

All the Punjabi writers have said that they were raising their voice against rising “intolerance” and “suppressing freedom of expression”.

The litterateurs 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.

They also said that the recent lynching of a Muslim man on suspicion of eating beef showed that a communal atmosphere was being built up.

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