Renowned poet and journalist Jacinta Kerketta, known for her powerful writings addressing injustices faced by Adivasi communities, has declined the ‘Aaj Tak Sahitya Jagriti Udyman Pratibha Samman’ award from the India Today Group.
Kerketta cited the ongoing injustices against tribals in Manipur, central India, and the global community as the reason for her decision.
The award, which recognized her poetry collection, included a prize of Rs. 50,000.
“I am not feeling any thrill or happiness from the news of this honour. Because respect for life is missing from the lives of many people,” EastMojo news website quoted Kerketta as saying.
“My heart remains troubled. This is a prestigious honour. But I am not taking it,” she said.
“When the tribals of Manipur were losing respect for their lives, the mainstream media remained indifferent towards them. Only by standing with their struggle will we be able to feel respected,” she added.
Jacinta Kerketta’s poetry and journalism discusses the Adivasi identity of youth, protests against the systemic oppression of Adivasis in India, gender-based violence, especially against women, displacement and questions the state apathy of governance.
Forbes India named her one of India’s top 20 Self-Made Women list.
In 2014 she was awarded by the Asia Indigenous People’s Pact (AIPP) in Bangkok for her journalistic work Indigenous Voice of Asia. That year she also received an award for her poems from the civil society organization Jharkhand Indigenous Peoples Forum and the Prerana Samman award from the Chota Nagpur Cultural Association. The Ravishankar Upadhyay Memorial Institute in Varanasi awarded her the Ravishankar Upadhyay Memorial Youth Poetry Award. In 2017 the daily Prabhat Khabar awarded her the Aparajita Award. In 2019 she received the Foundation of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Women Exemplar Recognition Award.
Her poetry collections, such as ‘Angor’ (2016) and ‘Jadon ki Zamin’ (2018), shed light on the injustices faced by Adivasi communities. Notably, her work has transcended language barriers, being translated into German, Italian, and French.