“The country is now passing through very tough times. I feel it’s worse than the black days of the Emergency.I was honoured to receive the prestigious award. But now I feel we the writers have a role to play in the way things are going on in our country. So as a matter of protest, I will return the award along with the cash award that I received then,” said Joseph while announcing her decision to return the award she won in 2003.
Referring to the lynching, Joseph said: “Our prime minister is a frequent flyer and gives big speeches on his trips abroad. The sad thing is that while he was away a man was beaten to death because he ate beef. There is a fear that has engulfed in what one eats, when one expresses love, and there is some sort of curb on what one wants to write and speak. This does not augur well.”
With this decision, she joins other writers, including Nayantara Sahgal and Ashok Vajpeyi, former chairperson of the Lalit Kala Akademi, who returned their Sahitya Akademi awards. She heads the Aam Aadmi Party’s unit in the state and contested the Lok Sabha polls from the Thrissur constituency last year.
Joseph, 69, received the award for her novel ‘Aalahayude Penmakkal ‘(Daughters of God the father) first published in 1999.