Noted Urdu writer and humorist Mujtaba Hussain on Wednesday said he had decided to return his Padma Shri award as he was pained by the state of democracy in India, PTI reported. The 87-year-old author was awarded the fourth-highest civilian award in 2007.

Hussain said criminal activities were increasing daily and democracy was under threat. “The democratic set up built by Gandhi ji, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Ambedkar, it is being broken,” he said. “The voice of many people is being shut, many are being killed and poor people are not in a position to laugh.”

The humorist said he would not hold the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party responsible for the state of affairs and decline in the standards of politics. “Politicians used to be statesmen,” Hussain added. “Now, statesmanship has come to an end.”

Asked to explain his decision, Hussain said he was unhappy with the state of affairs. “As a citizen, I am not happy in the country...mob lynching is happening, rapes are happening, criminal activities are growing day by day in the country, whoever is doing,” he added. “Politicians are not running the government...Common man is worried and dying...There is no attention towards him.”

Asked about the amendments to Citizenship Act and the National Register of Citizenship, the writer told The Hindu that he was worried about “the nature of this country which I leave for my children, and the next generation”.

The Hyderabad-based writer said the flame of hatred being fanned in India was disturbing. “The democracy which we worked for with so much pain and effort, and the way in which it is being destroyed, is condemnable,” Hussain added. “In these circumstances, I do not wish to keep any government award in my possession.”

Hussain is best known for his books America Ghaans Kaat Raha Hai, a take on US foreign policy, and Japan Chalo. He is the brother of Mahbub Hussain Jigar, who co-founded Siasat Daily with Abid Ali Khan.