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Nand Bhardwaj takes back his Sahitya Akademi award

After agreeing to take back the Sahitya Akademi award that he had returned, Rajasthani and Hindi writer and former Director of Doordarshan Nand Bhardwaj, on Friday said that taking back the award was his "personal decision". According to the Akademi, of about 40 writers who had returned the awards, Nayantara Sahgal and Mr. Bhardwaj had agreed to take them back.

Speaking to reporters during the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), Mr Bhardwaj said, "The situation in the country was different during the time when we had returned the award. At that time writers and rationalists were being killed. [Kannada writer] M.M Kalburgi was with the Sahitya Akademi and that is why so many award winners objected to the Academy's silence over his killing."

He said that the Akademi held a meeting when the awards were being returned and condemned the killing. "The Akademi has stated that it would stand with the writers. I respect the Akademi's decisions." Last year when several writers returned their Sahitya Akademi awards to register their protest against the Dadri lynching and killing of rationalists and writers Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar.

In October, last year, Mr. Bhardwaj too had returned his award after witnessing "the silence of the Akademi" over the increasing instances of religious intolerance in the country and the killings of writers to curb freedom of expression. Though he has agreed to taking back the award, he said that the situation in the country had not improved. "Intolerance and other issues remain as they were when the awards were returned, but now I wouldn't hold the Akademi responsible since that's not its mandate," Mr. Bhardwaj said.

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