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ICC Note:

A leading scientist in India has returned the Padma Bhushan award he received for his work in India in protest against growing religious intolerance in India. This comes only a week after 100 writers took to the streets and returned their national awards in protest against the BJP government. Since taking control in May 2014, religious intolerance and attacks on religious minorities, including Christians, has skyrocketed under the BJP. Many claim the government is not doing enough to stop this growth of religious intolerance, while others claim the government is intentionally spreading it. 

10/30/2015 India (Asia News) – Dr. Pushpa Mittra Bhargava, a leading Indian scientists, has decided to return the Padma Bhushan award in protest against the climate of “religious intolerance” that has spread in the country.

The award is one of the most important honors awarded by the President of India to those who stand out “in the high service to the nation.”

While returning the prize, Bhargava stated: “This award was very dear to me, I’ve received over 100 awards but this is the only one I received from the government, but I’m giving it away without any hesitation because at this moment the climate is such that we have many concerns.”

Dr. Bhargava, founder and director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, was also awarded the French Legion of Honor.  He is the latest in a long list of intellectuals who in recent weeks have been returning prestigious lifetime awards to protest against intolerance and violence unleashed by Hindu fundamentalists in India.

Only a week ago about 100 writers took to the streets in the capital of the demonstrating against the killing of secular writer MM Kalburgi, murdered in late August for his ideas on worship of Hindu deities and sacred rituals. Also they denounced the numerous incidents of violence against religious minorities in the country, of which the case of the Muslim man lynched in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh for allegedly eating beef, is only the most striking.

Critics of the government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, the Hindu nationalist party) Narendra Modi complain that he can not doing enough to counter the extremism of Hindu fanatics and protect freedom of expression.

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