Punjabi writer returns Padma Shri
Prominent Punjabi novelist/writer Dalip Kaur Tiwana announced today that she was returning her Padma Shri, India’s prestigious civilian award, joining a long list of writers returning their awards. The writers are protesting against the threat to free speech and attacks of intellectuals in India. In a statement, Tiwana said, “In this land of Gautama Buddha and Guru Nanak Dev, the atrocities committed on the Sikhs in 1984 and on the Muslims recurrently because of communalism are an utter disgrace to our state and society. And to kill those who stand for truth and justice put us to shame in the eyes of the world and God. In protest, therefore, I return the Padma Shri award,”.
Tiwana is the first to renounce a Padma award, while more than 20 writers in the country, starting with Nayantara Sahgal, have returned their Sahitya Akademi awards protesting the lynching of a man in Uttar Pradesh’s Bisada and for the murder of rationalists in Maharashtra and Karnataka. In her letter, 80-year-old Tiwana expressed solidarity with other writers “who are protesting against the increasing communalisation of our society and polity”.
Before Tiwan, as many as seven writers/poets including Surjit Patar, Jaswinder Singh, Baldev Singh Sadaknama Darshan Bhuttar, Ajmer Singh Aulakh, Atamjit Singh, Gurbachan Bhullar and Canada-based Waryam Sandhu have given up their awards.