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Malayalam Sahitya Akademi Award winner donates prize money to lynching victim Junaid Khan’s mother

The 15-year-old was killed in June 2017 in a religious hate crime on the outskirts of Delhi.

Malayalam writer and Sahitya Akademi Award winner KP Ramanunni on Monday donated his prize money to the mother of Junaid Khan, the teen stabbed to death on a Mathura-bound train from New Delhi in June 2017.

Ramanunni met Junaid’s mother, Saira Begum, right after the Akademi’s prize distribution ceremony on Monday and handed over the amount.

Calling it a “symbolic, moral gesture”, Ramanunni said, “Junaid was killed by Hindu communalists just for being a Muslim.” Fifteen-year old Junaid was attacked on his way home in a local train while he was travelling from Delhi to Faridabad. His attackers used religious slurs, accusing him of eating beef and of being a Pakistani.

Ramanunni added: “Let me place this award amount as an offering at the feet of Junaid’s mother, thus doing penance for that wicked sin, for penance is a special observance in the true Hindu tradition”.

The writer won the award for his novel Daivathinte Pusthakam, which deals with India’s communal situation. Earlier in July 2017, the author had received an anonymous letter threatening that his limbs would be chopped off if he did not convert to Islam. This was in response to a series of articles Ramanunni had published against the rising communalisation of Kerala society.

The Sahitya Akademi is India’s National Academy of Letters, supported by the Union government. In 2015, nine writers had returned their Sahitya Akademi awards in protests agains the organisation’s silence over the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, over rumours that he had eaten beef.

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