HYDERABAD: Joining the bandwagon of Sahitya Akademi award winners returning the coveted award to protest the ‘growing intolerance against free speech in the country,’ particularly in the backdrop of incidents such as the murder of writer MM Kalburgi, noted Telugu writer and actor M Bhoopal Reddy on Friday returned his Ugadi Puraskaram and also announced return of his Sahitya Akademi award.
Soon after returning the Ugadi Puraskaram bestowed upon him for his role as Komaram Bheem in a feature film based on the renowned tribal leader, Bhoopal Reddy appealed to writers, artistes and litterateurs from the state to voice against rising double standards of the state government.
“Where is Bangaru Telangana? Farmers’ suicides have increased, students unrest continues, corruption has multiplied manifold, and above all, people are killed in encounters,” the recipient of Sahitya Akademi award for children’s literature in Telugu for his book ‘Uggupalu’ in 2011, told Express.
He further asked why cannot the government address farmers’ crisis while it could spend crores in the name of celebrating festivals and constructing places of worship.
“The new government is interested in building places of worship and appeasing different religious communities.
Nothing will ever change with my return of the award, but this is how I wish to protest,” he added. After 42 writers from across the country who returned the Sahitya Akademi award, Reddy became the first Telugu writer to do the same.
Meanwhile, at a meeting organised by Pragyna Bharathi in the city, several writers and intellectuals condemned the attitude of writers in returning their Sahitya Akademi awards.
Speakers including Justice Narasimha Reddy, Potturi Venkateswar Rao, MLA N Ramachander Rao and others criticised the authors for their act. ‘’It is unbecoming on the part of the writers to return the awards,’’ they said.
‘’There must be some political motive behind these writers returning the awards. Such an act will hamper the image of the country,’’ they said.
Drama at Office
In a highly dramatic turn of events at the State Department of Language and Culture at Ravindra Bharati here, Bhoopal Reddy arrived at the office on Friday afternoon accompanied by media persons. While director of the department, Mamidi Harikrishna, was not present, Reddy claimed that his repeated attempts to reach to the director the previous day failed. In the absence of the director, officials refused to either accept or acknowledge the return of the award, following which Reddy met assistant director Narsing Rao. “I do not have any instructions. I cannot accept the return of the award,” was the reply from Rao. Reddy then spoke to the director who too parroted the same sentence while suggesting that he could leave the award at the despatch section. Reddy then approached the despatch section who also did not want to take the responsibility. After heated arguments, he returned the award, cash prize and a letter. As he was leaving the premises, one of the staff members approached him stating that `10,000 in cash could not be accepted and demanded a cheque or demand draft but Reddy refused to oblige. After long exchange of words, Reddy walked out to announce return of his Sahitya Akademi Award too.