Nepali writer returns award

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  • Published 29.04.08

Darjeeling, April 28: Writer Nanda Hangkhim was today made to shuttle from one office to another when he went to return his Bhanu Puraskar to the Bengal government to protest against the police lathicharge on an ex-servicemen’s rally near Siliguri on April 9.

The state information and culture department gave Hangkhim the annual award in 2005 for his contribution to Nepali literature.

At least two officers, one from the department and the other from the district collectorate, refused to take the award back before the 64-year-old writer dumped the citation at the table of the additional district magistrate (general) and left.

“I also wanted to know from the authorities how I should return the Rs 25,000 that came with the award, but they were of no help,” said Hangkhim. “Two of my brothers, Prem and Lal Bahadur, have served in the army and Prem took part in the peaceful rally (on April 9). The state government has blood on its hand. How can I keep this award any longer?”

The writer added that he had intimated the information and culture department about his desire to return the award on April 13, but got no response from the officials.

This morning, Hangkhim went to the department’s office near Mall where assistant director Suprina Blon met him. Blon spoke to her higher-ups but said she did not have the authority to take back the award. Sources said Hangkhim was asked to meet district magistrate (DM) Rajesh Pandey.

When Hangkhim and his well-wishers reached the collectorate, located 2km away, they were referred to additional district magistrate (general) P. Zimba before they could enter Pandey’s chamber.

Zimba said the DM had informed her that they were not in a position to take back the award because they “had not received any instruction from the state government”.

The additional district magistrate requested Hangkhim to “wait for a few days”, but the writer decided to meet Pandey. However, by the time he reached the DM’s chamber, Pandey had already left for Siliguri to meet Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders there.

Hangkhim went back to Zimba who asked him to meet the deputy collector (treasury), but his office was locked. Finally, Hangkhim entered Zimba’s office and before a word could be said he left the citation at her table and walked away.

The Bhanu Puraskar has had its share of controversies over the years. A few writers had returned their awards during the Gorkhaland agitation in the 1980s.

Consequently, the state government stopped giving the award in 1986 before reviving it in 2002.