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Bengaluru: After eminent writers Nayantara Sahgal and Ashok Vajpeyi, Malayalam novelist Sarah Joseph on Saturday said she would return the Sahitya Akademi award in protest against what she called the “growing communalism" and “life threat faced by writers" in the country after Narendra Modi government assumed office.

Joseph, who won the prestigious honour for her novel ‘Aalahayude Penmakkal’ (Daughters of God the Father), said she would soon send the cash prize and plaque to the Akademi via courier. This is the first time that a Malayalam writer has decided to return the Akademi honours to protest against the “communal policies" of the BJP-led NDA government.

Separately, former Akademi secretary and poet K. Satchidanandan announced his decision to resign his membership in all committees of the Akademi as it has ‘failed in its duty to stand with the writers and to uphold freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution’. Two other Malayalam writers P.K Parakkadavu and K.S Ravikumar, have also announced their resignation from the Akademi general council.

“My conscience does not permit me to continue on its (Akademi’s) general council and its executive board. I hereby abdicate all of my positions in the Sahitya Akademi including the membership of its several committees," Satchidanandan said in the letter.

“An alarming situation is being created in the country in all spheres of life after Modi government came into power. The religious harmony and secularism of the country is unprecedentedly under threat," she told PTI from Thrissur.

“I am sorry to observe that Akademi has failed in its duty to stand with the writers and to uphold the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India that seems to be getting violated every day in the country," Satchidanandan, a Kerala Sahitya Akademi fellow and winner of 32 literary awards, said.

“Holding a ritual condolence meeting in a regional office, as the Akademi seems to have done, is hardly an adequate response to the recent attacks on the freedom of expression followed by a series of murders of independent thinkers in different parts of the country," the letter said.

Earlier this year, writer Perumal Murugan had announced withdrawal of his books after Hindu outfits took offence to his novel. “Writer Perumal Murugan is dead," he said in a Facebook post.

(PTI contributed to this story)

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