Writer-activist Arundhati Roy has joined a bevy of artists, writers, scientists and film-makers who have returned their national awards as a protest against the rising intolerance and hatred being generated in the country towards minorities and lower castes under the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In an article in Indian Express, she stated: "I am very pleased to have found (from somewhere way back in my past) a National Award that I can return, because it allows me to be a part of a political movement initiated by writers, filmmakers and academics in this country who have risen up against a kind of ideological viciousness and an assault on our collective IQ that will tear us apart and bury us very deep if we do not stand up to it now."
In 1989, she had won a national award for the "In Which Annie Gives it Those Ones", a sensitive look at the lives of students facing their jury at the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, where she did a stint as a student. She has also won the Booker Prize for her book "The God of Small Things", in which she touched up the issue of inter-caste relationships.
She said she is proud to be part of a political movement by writers, filmmakers and academics who have risen up against "ideological viciousness". "It is politics by other means. I am so proud to be part of it. And so ashamed of what is going on in this country today," she wrote.
Roy is the latest entrant to what the Hindutva elements disparage as the #AwardWapsi movement, which has been snowballing across the country as a protest against the murder of rationalists and the Dadri lynching of a Muslim over beef-eating or cow slaughter.
"I want to make it clear that I am not returning this award because I am "shocked" by what is being called the "growing intolerance" being fostered by the present government. First of all, "intolerance" is the wrong word to use for the lynching, shooting, burning and mass murder of fellow human beings," Roy wrote.
"These horrific murders are only a symptom of a deeper malaise. Life is hell for the living too. Whole populations - millions of Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and Christians - are being forced to live in terror, unsure of when and from where the assault will come."
Roy had turned down the Sahitya Akademi award in 2005 when the Congress was in power. "So please spare me that old Congress-versus-BJP debate. It has gone way beyond all that," she wrote..