"I support Nayantara Sahgal and the many other writers protesting to the Sahitya Akademi. Alarming times for free expression in India," he tweeted. 88-year-old Sahgal, niece of Jawaharlal Nehru, was among the first to lodge her protest against the Akademi's silence over repeated attacks on writers and rationalists who were raising their voice of dissent.
    
Kashmiri writer Ghulam Nabi Khayal, Urdu novelist Rahman Abbas and Kannada writer- translator Srinath D N said they were handing back their Sahitya awards.

Khayal and Srinath were joined by Hindi writers Mangalesh Dabral and Rajesh Joshi who backed the spiralling protest by litterateurs against 'communal' atmosphere following rationalist M M Kalburgi's killing.
    
Punjabi author Waryam Sandhu and Kannada translator G N Ranganatha Rao said they have intimated to the Akademi their decision to give back their awards. With this, at least 16 authors have announced their decision to return their awards with some warning that minorities in the country today feel 'unsafe and threatened'.
    
"The communal poison is spreading in the country and the threat of dividing people looms large," the writers warned. Under fire from several quarters, the Akademi has called for a meeting of the Executive Board on October 23.
    
Sahitya Akademi President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari had said that the institution was committed to the core secular values enshrined in the Constitution of India.

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