Eminent author and critic G Rajashekhar on Thursday turned down the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award because of the “continuing atmosphere of intolerance” in the country, reported The Hindu. He said he decided to decline the award as a mark of solidarity with the writers who had returned their awards in 2015 for similar reasons. He was selected for the coveted award for his book Bahuvachana Bharata.

The writer said the right-wing forces were stifling the voices of dissent in the country. “There has already been a big public discussion on the issue of intolerance in the country. Right from Mohammad Akhlaq incident at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to the attack on persons from minority communities in the coastal district of Karnataka, the situation has not changed,” he told the newspaper.

He said the secular forces were being cornered in the country. “The year 2016 was far worse than 2015. I feel despondent and rather unnerved. Hence I feel that accepting an award in this situation is ludicrous. I cannot do it,” Rajashekhar said.