No freedom of expression in India: Gulzar

Expressing concern over the growing instances of communal violence in India, noted lyricist and filmmaker Gulzar has said he never witnessed such intolerance in the country before.


As many as 50 novelists, essayists, playwrights and poets have returned the awards they received from India’s prestigious literary academy to protest what they call a growing climate of intolerance under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Sahitya Akademi has also been criticised by India’s literati for its silence over the murders of writers, including secular scholar M M Kalburgi, who was shot dead in August, allegedly by Hindu radicals.

“The murder that has hurt us all is somewhere the fault of the system/government… Returning the award was an act of protest. Writers don’t have any other way to register their protest,” he said.

“We have never witnessed this kind of religious intolerance.”

“Never thought that a situation like this would come where a person’s religion is asked before his name. It was never like this… What politics can a writer do? A writer just speaks from his heart, mind and soul. They are the conscience keepers of the society. They are the keepers of the soul of the society,” added Gulzar.

In the wake of the authors’ protest, the Sahitya Akademi passed a unanimous resolution on Friday, appealing the government to take steps to prevent such incidents and asked authors to take back the awards they had returned to protest against “rising intolerance”.