The Sahitya Akademi put up its official response to the ongoing writers’ protest on Twitter on Friday, where it described the action it had taken after writer and rationalist MM Kalburgi was killed, and reiterated that it stood by its writers in condemning the murder. The literary body said it “firmly supports the writers’ freedom of expression” and that it is deeply pained by the violence Kalburgi and others like him have faced, a decision which was welcomed by writer Vikram Seth and others who had hoped for a strong statement from the Akademi.

Stating that the president of the Akademi had asked the vice-president to make a condolence call to Kalburgi’s family after his death, the resolution also describes the various occasions on which its members spoke up against the killing. The Akademi held a condolence meeting for Kalburgi on September 30 in Bangalore, it states, and many of its language convenors publicly condemned the murder in the weeks that followed. The Akademi also asked the writers who had returned their awards to “reconsider their decision”.

More than 35 writers have given back their Sahitya Akademi awards over the past few weeks, protesting against the body’s silence on the murder, the spate of communal crimes and the stifling of dissenting voices in the country. On Friday morning, hours before the Akademi’s emergency meeting, dozens of writers staged a silent protest march outside its Delhi office.