India Filmmakers Return Government Awards in Protest

In a protest against a growing movement suppressing free speech, a dozen Indian filmmakers have joined writers in returning awards given by the government.

Anand Patwardhan and Dibakar Banerjee are among the prominent directors who read a statement in Mumbai saying they were returning their National Award medal. “We have watched the murders of rationalists and writers like Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M. M. Kalburgi with dismay,” the statement said. “These are clearly not random acts of violence. People are being murdered for their beliefs and opinions. There seems to be no attempt to unravel the larger picture and bring to book extremist groups that believe in ruthless violence to eliminate those who hold a counter view from theirs. There has been no official condemnation of these groups and we question this silence.”

Several writers had returned their awards following the attacks on their fellow scribes. Besides the murders of Kalburgi, Panare and Dabholkar, writer Sudheendra Kulkarni faced an ink attack outside his home from Hindu fundamentalists.

“As common citizens who don’t believe in armed struggle; this is our weapon of protest,” said Patwardhan.

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