Chandigarh: Likening the “atrocities committed on Sikhs in 1984” to recent attacks on Muslims now, eminent Punjabi writer Dalip Kaur Tiwana on Tuesday announced she will return the Padma Shri award conferred on her.
Patiala-based Tiwana, a noted novelist and short-story writer, said that she was returning the honour conferred on her to highlight the wrong things being done in the country.
"Sikhs were the targets in 1984, now Muslims are under attack", she said.
She said that her action, and that of others returning their literary awards, would make intellectual people aware of what was wrong with the country.
Tiwana was conferred the fourth highest civilian award in India in the field of literature and education in 2004. She is the latest in a string of writers who have returned their award in protest against what they call growing intolerance in India.
At least eight litterateurs from Punjab have announced that they were returning their literary (Sahitya Akademi) awards.
These include Surjit Patar, Jaswinder Singh, Baldev Singh Sadaknama, Darshan Bhuttar, Ajmer Singh Aulakh, Atamjit Singh, Gurbachan Bhullar and Canada-based writer Waryam Sandhu.
All the Punjabi writers have said that they were raising their voice against rising "intolerance" and "suppressing freedom of expression".
They said that the recent lynching of a Muslim man on suspicion of eating beef showed that a communal atmosphere was being built up.
The litterateurs also said that they were giving up their awards to protest against the killings of writers M.M. Kalburgi in Karnataka (in August) and Narendra Dabholkar in Maharashtra (in 2013), stressing that they were shocked at the level of intolerance on freedom of speech and expression. They contended that free speech and writing was being suppressed.