Source: News Bharati English07 Oct 2015 14:09:09

New Delhi, October 7: After Former PM Nehru’s niece Nayantara Sahgal returned her Sahitya Akademi award protesting against what she called a "vicious assault" on India's diversity and debate, poet Ashok Vajpeyi has also given up the prestigious literary honour.

Ashok Vajpeyi, who is an Indian poet in Hindi, essayist, literary-cultural critic, said “Freedom of expression is being attacked constantly”.

Reasons have been many, I have been watching with despair the growing ethos of violence, said Ashok Vajpeyi after speaking to media on returning Sahitya Akademi Award

Apart from being a noted cultural and arts administrator, Vajpeyi was also a former civil servant. He said “Artists are being killed and their killers have still not been caught. Irresponsible statements are made every day”.

While speaking on the Dadri Incident, Vajpeyi said, “A man is murdered on basis of a rumor, & the PM is quiet about it. I mean, isn’t there a right to life?”.

"It is high time that writers take a stand," Vajpeyi, a former chairperson of the Lalit Kala Akademi, said. India is "bahuvachan", and shall remain "bahuvachan", added Vajpeyi

Nayantara Sahgal, the 88-year-old niece of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, recorded her protest against the government in a scathing statement titled "Unmaking of India".

 In it, she refers to the recent mob killing of a Muslim man over rumours that he had eaten beef, and also the killings of rationalists MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.

Earlier, Hindi writer Uday Prakash had returned the award.

He said when he saw a senior writer like Sahgal taking a stand, he felt more writers should support her. Vajpeyi expressed disappointed at the silence of the Sahitya Akademi, the national academy of letters, and said it had “failed to rise to the occasion and respect its autonomy”.