As the executive board of the Sahitya Akademi gears up to meet today to take stock of the situation after the mass resignation of writers to protest curbs on free speech, some board members have dismissed the dissent as 'ho halla' (empty noise). All eyes are on the meeting as many writers, including Vikram Seth, are waiting to see how the board handles the crisis before taking the decision to return awards by the Akademi.
The Indian Express quoted board member Surya Prasad Dixit as saying that the protest as a lot of "ho-halla”.
“If there is any threat (to freedom of expression) then we must present the case with evidence and submit to the government. Ho-halla jyada hua hai (A lot of noise has been made),” Dixit told Express.
Board member Gangadhar Hansdah maintained that there was no curbs on freedom of speech. Some writers are raising their voice against the government but it's their personal choice, he said.
Seth had earlier said that he was keenly awaiting the outcome of the Akademi's emergency meeting to decide whether or not to give up the award conferred on him by the literary body.
"In the Akademi there is so much inaction in the face of recent dreadful events like death of writers because they have spoken their mind. It is not fair in advance to malign or prejudge what the Akademi might decide to do but I am quite confident that they will take a stand," Seth told PTI.
The 63-year-old writer had received an Akademi award in 1988 for his novel 'The Golden Gate'. Writers, including Nayantara Sahgal, Uday Prakash, Ashok Vajpei has Ganesh Devy, had returned their awards in protest against incidents of "rising intolerance".