Mumbai: Amid a row over the Maharashtra government's decision to withdraw an award for the Marathi translation of alleged Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy's memoir, three members of the award selection committee have resigned from the state Literature and Culture Board citing "insult of democratic procedures".
The three authors - Dr Pradnya Daya Pawar, Neeraja, and Heramb Kulkarni - were also members of the committee that selected the Marathi translation of Ghandy's book "Fractured Freedom: A Prison Memoir" for the Late Yashwantrao Chavan Literature Award 2021. However, the government not only withdrew the award, but also scrapped the award selection committee.
On December 6, the government's Marathi Language department had announced the award to Anagha Lele for her translation of Ghandy's book. But the decision was criticised on social media because of Ghandy's alleged Maoist links.
In her statement, Dr Pawar said, "The Maharashtra government's one-sided decision to scrap the selection committee insults the democratic procedures. I have decided to resign as a member of the Maharashtra State Literature and Culture Board."
Kulkarni said, "Ghandy's book is not even banned, still the Maharashtra government back-tracked its own decision to award the translated version of it. This kind of treatment by the government will discourage people in future to be part of such processes. If the board is not going to support us, then I better quit. Please accept my resignation."
Neeraja cited a similar reason. "If the board is not standing behind us and extending its support, then it is better that I quit as its member. I believe in freedom of expression and am deeply hurt by the state's decision."
A Government Resolution (order) issued on Monday stated that the decision of the selection committee had been reversed for "administrative reasons", and the award, which included cash prize of Rs one lakh, has been withdrawn. The committee too has been scrapped, the GR added.
The state government every year distributes awards to writers and translators covering a range of topics. These awards are distributed under the umbrella name Late Yashwantrao Chavan Literature Award. An award in each category is named after some eminent personality for their contribution to the society and literature.
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