Three Kannada writers have announced their decision to boycott the Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF), scheduled to begin from 5 December in Bengaluru.

The writers said their decision was fuelled by comments made by the festival director and author Vikram Sampath against writers returning their awards.

According to the Times of India, Kannada writers O L Nagabhushana Swamy,  Arif Raza and Dayananda T K have announced their decision to shun the BLF. In a letter, the three Kannada writers have objected to Sampath's description of writers returning awards as "neither intellectual nor academic in spirit".

Literary critic O L Nagabhushana Swamy, in the letter, said: "I feel reluctant to be part of a festival organised by those who are not willing even to pause and examine the anguish of writers who have returned their awards."

Another reason he was witdrawing from the festival was the importance given to Kannada and Kannada writers was far from satisfacory, he added. 

Kannada writer Dayanand said: "If asking questions is a crime, if low castes being alive is a crime, if being rational is a crime, if disapproving one-sided culture is a crime — I welcome the tolling of alarm bells that returning of awards has brought about."

Kannada poet Arif Raza in his statement rubbished Sampath's comments as "politically motivated and childish".

Late K Shivaram Karanth returned his Padma award during the Emergency, Rabindranath Tagore returned his Knighthood against British atrocities, and there have been hundreds of writers like Kannada litterateur Chandrashekhar Patil who fought against the Emergency, lost jobs and languished in jail.

"That writers are returning awards is a minimalist form of protest compared to what writers have done in the past, I believe," said Raza.