NEW DELHI – Acclaimed theater artist, poet and playwright from Karnataka S. Raghunandana on Wednesday has declined the Sangeet Natak Akademi award for 2018, a day after it was announced.
In his statement, Raghunandana cited the prevailing incidents of “mob lynching in the name of God and religion” and “throttling the voices of conscientious intellectuals and activists” for his refusal to accept the award.
Raghunandana wrote, “Today, there is mob lynching and violence in the name of God and religion and even in the matter of what one eats. The powers-that-be are directly, or indirectly, responsible for these deadly acts of murder and violence. They are directly or indirectly supporting the hate campaign that uses all means, including those offered by internet technology to fulfil its unholy aims.”
Raising the issue of activists arrested for sedition, he said, “Young people such as Kanhaiya Kumar who should shape the future of India and the world at large are facing charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy. Others – intellectuals and social activists – are facing trial under UAPA. Most of them have not even got bail and are spending time in prison. These are people who have always stood up for the cause of the most exploited and downtrodden of our country and everywhere else… Yet they are in prison.”
“This is not a protest,” said Raghunandana on his refusal to accept the award. “It comes out of despair, a helpless inability to accept the award. I respect the Akademi, and all those who have received this award, now and in the past. I thank the members of the Akademi, and apologise.”