‘Forces Against Writers Are Implementing the Undeclared Agenda of the Regime’

The Sahitya Akademi award

The Sahitya Akademi award

The following is a statement by the leading Punjabi writer Gurbachan Singh Bhullar, who has decided to return his Sahitya Akademi award:

Recently the social sector has been systematically targeted. Literature and culture have become the target of calculated attacks which has made me concerned and restless. Wonderful human achievements of literature, culture, history and all forms of arts have been condemned and distorted.

It could be said that this trend is not something new and that such things have happened for a long time. This is true in that in recent decades none of the governments have a clean slate on this account.

Still now its different because earlier governments ignored such occasional, incidents because of the politics of vote bank but generally, avoided being an overt or a covert agent provocateur. But now it is crystal clear that violent retrogressive forces dictating terms in the field of literature and culture are implementing the undeclared agenda of the present regime. The situation demands that every sane person  think and respond seriously.

We expected the Sahitya Akademi to express its concern when publishers were being forced to withdraw books and writers were threatened and hunted down in their homes. But instead of calling a meeting to address the problem, the Akademi took shelter in rules and traditions to justify its silence. In this situation I am pained and feel I have no choice but to return the Sahitya Akademi Award I was conferred in 2005 as a Punjabi writer.

In the end I want to make it clear that despite today’s vicious atmosphere I am hopeful. I have confidence that despite serious setbacks, people will emerge stronger and sail across the darkness and so will literature and culture. Vigorous efforts will help us move forward on a sustainable path of development.

Translated from the Punjabi by Daljit Ami