Demanding that the Sahitya Akademi "stir from its soporific stance and act", eminent poet Keki Daruwalla has become the latest to join the chorus of protests against the silence of the country's premium literary body on the murder of professor MM Kalburgi. In a letter to Akademi president Dr Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari, Daruwalla said he was "deeply perturbed at the Akademi's inexplicable silence".

The poet, who won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1984, said it was astonishing that Tiwari was not sensitive to the issue despite several voices of dissent from Akademi members. The Padma Shri recipient added that he was upset that the Akademi was yet to hold a condolence meeting in honour of Professor Kalburgi more than a month after his death, which he called a "murder of ideas". He said that writers should feel free to express their views about the crime and that they should fear no one.

Daruwalla's comments come on the same day that Malyalam poet K Satchidanandan resigned from all his positions in the Akademi. On Friday, award-winning novelist Shashi Deshpande had quit the literary body's Governing Council, stating that "silence is a form of abetment".

Earlier this week, eminent writer Nayantara Sahgal and former Lalit Kala Akademi chairman Ashok Vajpeyi had returned their Sahitya Akademi Awards to protest the "assault on right to freedom of both life and expression".

Noted Hindi writer Uday Prakash was the first to return his Sahitya Akademi award to protest the murder of Professor Kalburgi.

We give below the full text of Dauwalla's letter.

Dear Dr Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari,

What I am going to say may not be very pleasant. I have, since my return to the country in mid September, been quite perturbed at the inexplicable silence of the Akademi of which you are President, in regard to crimes against authors.

The letters from well known writers and their dismay at the Akademi’s apathy to murder of writers is indeed something extremely alarming. It is astonishing that you are not sensitive to this issue. Writers returning their awards, or resigning from positions in the Akademi, is something which has never been  witnessed in the long history of the Akademi.

Late Prof MM Kalburgi was a Sahitya Akademi award winner. He was murdered first thing in the morning on August 30. According to all the reports in papers that I have read, this was a murder of ideas that he held. Over a month has passed and the Akademi has not even held a Shok Sabha, condolence meeting in his honour. What does it say of the Akademi as an institution and of office bearers of this institution as upholders of our literary and cultural values?

The Akademi must hold a meeting and condole with the family. What is even more important, writers should feel free to express their anger and views at this dastardly crime. It is not just the crime that is condemnable, but also the distorted and warped thought process behind the act that needs to be vilified by our fellow writers.

I and other writers sincerely hope that you will stir the Akademi from its soporific stance and act. We need to fear no one in this matter.

Sincerely Yours

Keki N. Daruwalla