Cuttack: Eminent litterateur of Odisha and poet of international acclaim Jayanta Mahapatra said the return of the Padma Shri award is only to express a small voice of dissent, not to show a dishonour to the nation.
Speaking exclusively to the OTV, Mahapatra stated, “I felt hurt looking at the incidents happening in the country and reports being published in newspapers. I was forced to take this decision.”
He further said, “I have not taken the decision in a day. After seeing the incidents and reading newspapers, I got fear that I might not be able to write as per my wish or what I think about. I would have to think ten times before writing about any subject. Besides, I have to think who will be hurt with my write-ups. Can I write as per my wish after considering so many things? My freedom has been cut short. Therefore, I decided to return the award to express how much I am hurt deep inside.”
Replying to a query whether the return of Padma Shri will bring any change, Mahapatra said, “I am not trying to find a solution. Looking for a solution is the job of government officials and political leaders.”
He added, “Though intolerance was present earlier in the country, the intensity was not so much like today. The government was never in approval of the intolerance earlier.”
Commenting on the decision of Mahapatra to return the award, novelist Bibhuti Patnaik said, “Intolerance is not a new thing. Not only India, it is happening across the world. Especially, communal intolerance is happening in the world. Only returning the award is not the way out. Mahapatra should present his views in his write-ups and through participation in discussions.”
Notably, Mahapatra, who was conferred Padma Shri in 2009, has written a letter to President of India Pranab Mukherjee expressing his desire to return the civilian honour.