Eminent poet Jayanta Mahapatra returns Padma Shri award

Cuttack: Adding to the list of celebrities across the country who have returned their award to the Government of India in protest against the growing intolerance in the country, eminent litterateur of Odisha and poet of international acclaim, Jayanta Mahapatra has joined the bandwagon as he has expressed his desire to return the Padma Shri award.

“I would feel ethically impugned if I did not raise my voice in dissent against the growing moral asymmetry that’s blatantly visible in our country. It’s a small, insignificant voice, true, but mine, of an aging man of 88 years, and in no way attempts to solve the issue I’ve stated here, an intrusion into the basic freedoms of a citizen of India”, Mahapatra said in a letter to the President of India Dr Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday.

The octogenarian poet, who was conferred Padma Shri in 2009, said a thoughtful debate within himself has framed him by a justification that what he is about to do is right by his own moral standards.

“In accordance with my beliefs, I would, as a mark of protest, humbly wish to return the civilian honour of “Padma Shri” which had been bestowed upon me by the President of India in 2009”, he said while seeking permission of the President to state that this act does not point at all to any kind of dishonor for his country.

However, in his reaction, senior BJD leader and Cuttack MP Bhartruhari Mahatab said it is not right for a person to return the award given by the country.

“I believe that those who have received these national awards have upheld the significance of these awards. In my opinion, this is not a right decision. A person, who has been honoured by the nation, should upkeep the pride of the award,” he said.