NEW DELHI: Noted poet and lyricist Gulzar has now come out against the growing atmosphere of intolerance in India, joining the national and international outrage over the Dadri lynching and the rapid seep of communalism into the country’s secular and democratic polity.

Gulzar said, “the murder that has hurt us all is somewhere the fault of the system/government… Returning the award was an act of protest. Writers don’t have any other way to register their protest. We have never witnessed this kind of religious intolerance. At least, we were fearless in expressing ourselves.”

He rubbished questions about the writers decision to return their Sahitya Akademi awards,extending full support to them. He said, “never thought that a situation like this would come where a person’s religion is asked before his name. It was never like this… What politics can a writer do? A writer just speaks from his heart, mind and soul. They are the conscience keepers of the society. They are the keepers of the soul of the society.”

Gulzar’s statements follow a march by writers and artists in Delhi to protest against the rising intolerance. The writers said that the protest was to express their anger against the government for letting anti-social incidents happen and to attract attention of the academy towards the increasing attacks on litterateurs.

The opposition is spreading across the world with several scholars issuing statements against the rise of communalism in India. As a first prominent British scholars have now criticised the invite to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Cambridge University in November as part of his UK visit. The "Faculty, Students and Alumni of Cambridge", in a letter addressed to Vice Chancellor Leszek Borysiewicz, said that PM Modi's visit will bring disrepute to the university.

The letter stated, "given that your invitation comes at a time when several prominent Indian writers and intellectuals are returning their state honours in protest against the ongoing assault on civil liberties and academic freedom under Mr Modi's government , we believe that Mr Modi's presence at our institution will bring the university into serious disrepute.”

"While these events should concern all right-thinking people, our specific concern about this invitation from one of the world's top universities stems from Prime Minister Modi's government's ongoing attacks on academic freedom and freedom of expression in India.

"We are impelled to ask therefore why the University of Cambridge affords to Mr Modi the very freedom of expression and academic freedom that, despite constitutional guarantees, are being steadily eroded in India," it added.