Senior journalist Akshaya Mukul, who was to receive the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award on Wednesday, boycotted the ceremony in a show of dissent against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from whom he was to receive the honour.
Mukul was quoted by a magazine as saying he boycotted the ceremony as he couldn’t “live with the idea of Modi and me in the same frame”. He indicated to the magazine that the government’s perceived clampdown on the media and freedom of speech in general was unacceptable.
Krishan Chopra, chief editor at HarperCollins India, the publishers of Mukul’s book ‘Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India’ for which he was accorded the honour, received the award on his behalf. Mukul’s book examines the ideological roots of Hindutva.
Mukul received both bouquets and brickbats on social media over his decision.
“Mukul not only deserved the award for his brilliant book, but is also one of the most spunky journalists of the day,” tweeted Hridayesh Joshi.
“Never knew real lions still exist!” said S K Jain, another social media user.
There were, however, others who criticised the journalist for refusing the awards. “By refusing the Ramnath Goenka Award, the journalist disrespects all citizens,” tweeted Animesh Sarma.