NEW DELHI: As seems to have become the periodic norm for a couple of television news channels, writers who returned their awards in protest against the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in 2015, were again targeted by motivated news anchors. Screaming allegations the anchors brought in panels to echo their views, this time arising from a statement issued earlier by the former president of the Sahitya Akademi V.P.Tiwari alleging that the writers were part of a ‘political conspiracy.’

The writers, including those who had returned their Akademi awards, have issued a statement making it clear that their protest remains srong, more so as the award wapsi has been followed by even more lynchings and murders as of Gauri Lankesh. And that the investigation has revealed a conspiracy by right wing organisations instead.

The statement reads:

Once again, the current establishment has manufactured “charges” against those who speak up to divert attention from urgent issues. The former President of the Sahitya Akademi, Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari, has claimed on troll media that the writers who protested against growing intolerance by returning their awards in 2015 were part of a “political conspiracy”.

Rather than responding to this defamation, we ask why he and his supporters have begun such a counter campaign at this juncture.

In 2015, writers and citizens protested against the political assassination of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi. They protested against the lynching of citizens such as Mohammed Akhlaq. The reasons for their protest still hold. Since then, Gauri Lankesh was assassinated for her views. A series of lynchings have taken place, in the name of the cow or in the name of communal hatred.

The investigation into Gauri Lankesh murder shows that these assassinations — from that of Dabholkar to Lankesh –were linked; they expose a larger plan to kill and silence writers by certain rightwing organisations. The investigation has revealed the existence of arms training camps; the manufacture and storage of explosives. It has also found a diary with a hit list that includes writers and activists from KS Bhagwan to Girish Karnad and Damodar Mauzo. Even the Sahitya Akademi has been moved to issue a press release demanding the safety of writers to speak and write as they must.

The urgent need of the hour is to resist the intimidation of writers into putting down their pens. Into falling silent. The need of the hour is to complete investigations into the multiple assassinations, and to bring the assassins and their supporting organisations to book. The need of the hour is to pressure the government and law makers to end the lynching of our fellow citizens.

No diversionary tactic can dilute this urgent need. No slanderous accusation can silence our voices.

Nayantara Sahgal

Krishna Sobti

K. Satchidanandan

Damodar Mauzo

Ashok Vajpeyi

Keki Daruwalla

Shashi Deshpande

Dalip Kaur Tiwana

Ganesh Devy

Mangalesh Dabral

Surjit Patar

Kiran Nagarkar

Rahman Abbas

Atamjit Singh

Rajesh Joshi

E.V. Ramakrishnan

Adil Jussawalla

Githa Hariharan

Bhai Baldeep Singh

Sridala Swami

Ishrat Syed

Kalpana Swaminathan

Anjali Nerlekar