Our Sahitya Akademi awardees

O P Sharma
The National Academy of Letters , Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi has selected Inderjeet Kesar and Mushtaq Ahmad Tantray for their books Bhagirath and Aakh (A Scar) in Kashmiri respectively for the prestigious Sahitya Akademic awards for the current year.
The Annual Awards by the Sahitya Akademi are declared for 24 Indian regional languages including Dogri and Kashmiri. It is worth mentioning that Dogri language awards were started from 1970 with Narendra Khajuria as first awardee while Kashmiri language awards started with the setting up of the Akademi.
The awards will be presented to both the Dogri and Kashmiri writers at a special function on January 29, 2019, New Delhi during the Festival of Letters, organised by the Sahitya Akademi.
Inderjeet Kesar
I had exclusive interview with both the eminent writers about their life and literary works, particularly with a focus on the award winning books.
The Dogri awardee Inderjeet Kesar said, he feels that the contemporary Dogri Literature was getting recognition and this proud honour is in fact a pride for the Dogri language and whose mother-tongue it is. “I feel elated but humble with this award and would like to contribute my best to my mother-tongue .
Inderjeet Kesar’s “Bhagirath” is among the six novels in different regional languages which have been finally selected for the Sahitya Akademi Award this year. This author’s novel was published last year and has been widely appreciated in the literary circles. This 261-page novel in Dogri has been published by Jai Mata Prakashan, Jammu, priced Rs 350 and its Preface have been written by eminent Dogri writers like Ved Rahi, late Dr. Laxmi Narayan Sharma, Prof. Shashi Pathania while views have also been put out by Savitri Inderjeet Kesar , wife who is an inspiration and pillar of support for this prolific author.
In the novel , “Bhagirath” , the story is woven around one simple and honest young village boy Dharm Chand who migrates to a small town and starts his studies and service with complete devotion and dedication for the upliftment of the people of his town. From a humble start in the administration, he rises to be a high officer and always worked for the welfare of the society in his area. He was instrumental in the development of his locality and he was symbolized as “Bhagirath” who, according to a legend, brought Ganga from Lord Shiva in the lofty Himalayas. Just as sacred Ganga is considered beneficial to the entire humanity, so is this humble man Dharam Chand taken as a God sent person for the uplift of the society. The novel, written in a simple language and lucid style makes an interesting and innovative narration with suspense always kept for the readership.
This awardee has authored 21 books , including six novels, two short stories, 11 poetic compositions, essays and also one Bhaint (devotional songs) collection .
Born in holy Katra town on October 9, 1946 in the family of Amarnath Kesar started his service career during January 1968 in the J&K State Government and ultimately retired as Deputy Secretary (KAS cadre) during October, 2004. He started his literary work while being in service but got his works published only after superannuation. Some of his books now form part of the academic curriculum. He has translated Rabindra Nath Tagore’s Bal Sahitya in Dogri language. He has received some other honours and awards.
The Sahitya Akademi has selected Inderjeet Kesar’s Dogri novel : Bhagirath for the award for its rich literary language and treatment of the theme. It is expected that the author, Mr Kesar will make more contribution to the Dogri language and its literature and stand up to his commitment to write more books for further popularizing the mother-tongue, Dogri.

Mushtaq Ahmad Mushtaq (Tantray)
Immediately after the announcement of the Sahitya Akademi Award to outstanding writers in 24 regional Indian languages including Kashmiri and Dogri , I rang up to congratulate Mushtaq Ahmad Mushtaq (Tantray), who has been declared for covetous Akademi Award for his book Aakh ( A Scar) in Kashmiri this year. I had some interaction with him regarding Kashmiri literature and got details about his life and literary journey.
Born on August 8, 1961 in Churmujroo in Beerwah tehsil of Budgam district he got his education in the Kashmir valley. While he was studying in Kashmir University doing M A (Kashmiri), he started his career as Casual News Reader cum Translator for both Radio Kashmir Srinagar and Doordarshan, Srinagar. And now he is Deputy Director (News) in the Radio Station Srinagar. He joined as junior grade officer in Indian Information Services after qualifying UPSC during 1985-86 and is presently Deputy Director (News) in the Radio Station, Srinagar. He had a stint in Directorate of Field Publicity ( Government of India) for about two years, also became Correspondent and worked in various capacities disseminating the government policies and programmes to the grass root level outreach through the interpersonal communication. Mr. Mushtaq is also carrying on creditably his literary pursuits carving out a niche in the Kashmiri language and its literature.
He did get good words from higher authorities for his work and dedication to duty during the crucial period in the Valley.
Mushtaq Ahmad Mushtaq’s this award winning book in Kashmiri entitled “Aakh” (A Scar) is a vivid commentary on the way Kashmir society has fallen apart and undergone sea change because of internal and external forces that have left their indelible mark on the society with all its trials and tribulations during the past some years. The book has 18 short stories of today’s Kashmir when chaos and confusion have engulfed and taken toll of social values. The age-old traditions and cultural values that were unique to Kashmir have got scarred over the years for various reasons. The author has chosen right themes which pertain to prevailing situation. He laments the loss of rich past culture not by shedding crocodile tears like the politicians but drawn a real picture of predicament that Kashmiri’s are going through.
Mushtaq Ahmad Mushtaq has portrayed the contemporary scenario boldly in his unique style. His language is lucid as he often uses common phrases and idioms of the Kashmiri language. His narration in the award winning book is simple and stylish with substantive subject treatment in a free and fair manner. This Kashmiri author has carved out a place in the Kashmiri literature and deserves admiration for writing about the Kashmir and the Kashmiri at a time when most people are scared to write. Mushtaq Ahmad Mushtaq (Tantray) is the well-deserved Kashmiri writer for the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award.
(Starline Syndicate Service)