Ratna Rashid Banerjee, who is a Bengali writer and folk culture researcher, returned the award by the Paschimbanga Bangla Academy as a protest against the literary award being conferred to the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee for her contribution to literature.
Banerjee returned her Annada Shankar Smarak Samman, with which she was honoured in 2019. Apart from returning the award, she also wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Academy, Bratya Basu, who is also the education minister. In the letter, she said that the award has become "a crown of thorns" for her considering a new literary award is being given to CM Banerjee. Moreover, the award is being given on the birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.
She told PTI, "As a writer, I feel insulted by the move to give a literary award to the CM. It will set a bad precedent. The statement of the Academy praising the relentless literary pursuit of the honourable chief minister is a travesty of truth."
Suggested Reading: Sahitya Akademi Awards 2021: Here’s A List Of All The Women Authors Honoured
Ratna Rashid Banerjee: Returned Annada Shankar Smarak Samman
CM Mamata Banerjee is being honoured with the award for her book Kabita Bitan, which is a collection of over 900 poems. The award was introduced this year and awarded during a program organised to celebrate the birth anniversary of Tagore on Monday.
Ratna Rashid Banerjee is an officer in the education department and is engaged in writing, woodworking and homemaking. She was born on June 24, 1954, to father Anupam Banerjee, who was a Central Government Officer and mother Lakshmi Rani Banerjee, who was a homemaker.
Later, she was married to Abdur Rashid Chowdhury, who used to work at the Education Department. The couple has a son named Dr Anirban Rashid and a grandson named Abhigyan Rashid.
Till now, she has been adorned with prestigious awards like Bangla Academy Ranjit Singha Sarok Puroshar, Ransankar Smriti Award, Monishi Abdul Karim Sahitto Bisarod, Sara Bangla Kobita Utsav, Rar Bangla Kobita Utsav, Sara Rajjyo Natto Mela, and Sara Bharat Writers Guild, amongst others.
Feature Image Credit: The Wall