Twenty-four of India's top artists associated with the film industry, including writer Arundhati Roy, filmmakers Saeed Mirza and Kundan Shah, and cinematographers Ranjan Palit and Manoj Lobo gave up their National Awards on Thursday, citing government interference in appointments at national institutions and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence in the face of incidents of right wing intolerance.
Cinematographer Virendra Saini, Satya Raj Nagpaul, Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti, Sudhir Palsane and Abhimanyu Dange, filmmakers Tapan Bose, Sanjay Kak, Madhusree Dutta, Pradip Krishen, Amitabha Chakravarty and Tarun Bharitiya, audiographers Vivek Sachidanand and PM Satheesh and editor Irene Dhar Malik are among those who gave up their awards today at a highly covered press conference.
Shah is the director of the cult classic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron.
The Hindu reported that Rafeeq Ellias, who won his award for best ethnographic film, is also part of the group. Roy won her National Award for the best screenplay in 1988 for In Which Annie Gives it Those Ones.
List of 24 National Award winners who have returned their awards in protest against intolerance: ANI pic.twitter.com/kI3QfRY1NH— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) November 5, 2015
India's best known astronomer, Professor Jayant Narlikar writes to the President, concerned about rising intolerance pic.twitter.com/b7zi7L4zgp— Saikat Datta (@saikatd) November 4, 2015
RT @CNNIBNBreaking: 24 national award winners, including filmmakers Kundan Shah and Saeed Mirza, to return their awards today— CNN-IBN News (@ibnlive) November 5, 2015
#AwardWapsi | 24 filmmakers return honour against in protest against growing intoleranceNovember 5, 2015
In a letter to Modi, the filmmakers expressed their concerns over the state of affairs at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) which has been the centre for months-long protests against the appointment of actor Gajendra Chauhan as Chairman. Agitating students have alleged that Chauhan's appointment was a political one.
"Rather than see our fellow filmmakers mocked, we have decided to stand with them and yet again and bring public attention back to the manner in which the current government is responding to dissent and debate," the artists wrote.
Scrambling to control damage, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu told reporters that the ongoing protests by writers, historians, scientists, academics and fimmakers were an "effort is to derail the Narendra Modi government."
Attributing a political colour to the nationwide protests, the Naidu said "political intolerance is a genetic trait of the Congress Party."
"Not to speak out would be a crime. We are speaking out to reclaim the soul and spirit of this land," NDTV quoted Mirza as saying.
"We are not against the BJP, we have protested against the Congress too," said Shah.
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