Kashmir Writers Reject Protests Over 'intolerance'4 November 2015
New Delhi: Coming out against writers and artistes making allegations of 'rising intolerance' in the country, a group of Kashmiri writers on Wednesday charged that they had adopted a 'selective and biased perspective' to defame India and questioned the absence of such protests during the forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits and the anti-Sikh riots. 'We reject the accusation by a segment of artistes, writers and others over intolerance and the return of their awards. It is a systematic and psychological campaign based on a selective and biased perspective,' writer Dr Agnishekher told reporters. Stating that the return of awards and voicing of concern presents a 'very dismal picture' of India to the world, the Kashmiri writers said they were 'shocked and disapproved of the systematic campaign unleashed by them'. Flanked by writer Dr Khema Koul, artist Gokal Dembi and columnist Shiban Khaibri, Agnishekher said, 'Our nation is the most tolerant nation in the world. Please do not defame it.' Accusing the protesting intellectuals and artistes of being 'biased towards the majority', he also targeted Nayantara Sahgal, the writer who returned her Sahitya Akademi award in protest against 'growing intolerance'. 'What has she (Sahgal) written on our plight in light of attacks by Islamic fundamentalists and how we were forced out of our own part of the country. 'Where were they during 1984 anti-Sikh riots, when thousands of Sikhs were brutally massacred. There was a grave gripping silence on the part of these people,' Agnishekher claimed. He also saw a 'larger conspiracy' by this segment of writers, poets, artistes and others in initiating such a protest. Stating that 'many of us have been at the very forefront of criticising the present government over its policies on the exiled community of Hindus in Kashmir, Agnishekher asserted that 'being a victim of religious cleansing, we are deeply aware of the nature of the forces of intolerance, particularly of the religious type'. Slamming the 'vicious and mala fide campaign to defame India' the Kashmiri writers said they have 'full faith in the democratic and secular character of this country'. Speaking to reporters, Koul alleged that 'these writers and artists' aim is disintegration of India'.