As the season of festivals and lights comes, darkness has engulfed the literary and cultural spheres of the country. Growing religious intolerance and intolerance of thoughts and opinions that do not conform to the ‘ideology’ of the powers that be is forcing one litterateur after another to return the Sahitya Akademi awards as a mark of protest against the ’onslaught on freedom of expression` and ‘rising intolerance’.
Instead of pausing and pondering over the peaceful and democratic protest of the literati, the rulers are showing more arrogance and becoming more brazen. BJP heavyweight and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the second most important Minister after the Prime Minister, has dismissed the protest of the litterateurs as an ‘act of ideological intolerance’, as ‘politics by other means’ and a ‘manufactured revolt’. Manufactured by whom? Is he suggesting that the eminent authors have no mind and no critical faculties of their own? That they can be manipulated by others?
Not to be left behind by his senior colleague, Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma has suspected the ‘motives’ of the writers in going in for ‘not called for actions’. He has heaped scorn on them by demanding that their ‘background’ be probed as such a probe will help bring out ‘something revealing’. This worthy had also had the temerity to offer a gratuitous insult to the Indian Muslims by saying that though the late A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was a Muslim, he was ‘also a nationalist’, implying that all Muslims are anti-national, only Kalam was an exception. He has not been admonished.
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