Urdu journalist and writer Shirin Dalvi has decided to return a literary award in protest against the recent amendments to the Citizenship Act, calling them “inhuman” and “an attack on the Constitution and secularism”, The Wire reported on Thursday.
Dalvi is returning a special prize she had got from the Maharashtra Rajya Urdu Sahitya Akademi in 2011. She is a former editor of the Mumbai edition of Avadhnama, which published French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s infamous cartoon of Prophet Mohammed in 2015, leading to her arrest. She was sacked and the edition was later shut down. Dalvi is now a freelance journalist, translator and writer.
“I am saddened and shocked at the news of the passing of the bill,” Dalvi told The Wire. She said she was returning the award to join the voices of her “community and people fighting for secularism and democracy”.
Dalvi called the bill divisive and discriminatory, and said it had been a source of anxiety and discomfort amongst Muslims. “We all have to stand firm to protect our Constitution and the Ganga-Jamuna tehzeeb,” she said.
The Mumbai-based writer told The Hindu: “I am not against citizenship for refugees. It is good and as a country we should have a big heart. But I don’t understand why one community has been excluded. The bill essentially asks Muslims to prove their citizenship in the country.”
“After this bill, there will be the proverbial sword hanging over the head of the entire community,” she added.
Meanwhile, Urdu author and translator Yaqoob Yawar also announced that he would return the Uttar Pradesh State Urdu Academy Award he had won last year. “Since I am old and can’t do much in terms of physical protest, I have decided to return the award in protest,” he told The Wire.
On Wednesday, Maharashtra police officer Abdur Rahman said he would not attend office from the next morning in an act of “civil disobedience” against the amendments. Rahman was posted as the special inspector general of police in the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission. In a tweet, Rahman wrote that the bill was “against the basic feature of the Constitution”.
The contentious amendments will allow citizenship to persecuted people of six communities – but not Muslims – from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014. The amendments were approved by both Houses of Parliament this week and were signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday night.