Disagreeing with the writers who have returned their awards over "rising intolerance", noted author Amish Tripathi today said that by their action, they were essentially painting Indian society as communal when the country had not become so.
"I don't think India has turned communal like Syria and Pakistan because, I don't think, the data backs that. If you see the data, religious violence in India, compared to most other countries, is low," he said.
"I respectfully beg to differ with those writers who have returned their awards," Tripathi added.
The celebrated author was speaking to reporters after the launch of India's first-ever book chapter downloads. The event was organised by Dailyhunt and Westland Publications here.
Tripathi said that thought a few "horrific incidents" have happened, it would be "an excess" to label 1.25 billion Indians as communal.
"There are a few horrific incidents that have happened, I admit, and the criminals responsible for these incidents need to be punished with full force of the law, but to label 1.25 billion Indians are communal, I think may be a bit of an excess," he said.
"There are few religious extremists in India, but there are vast majority of Indians who are deeply religious and deeply liberal," Tripathi added.
Tripathi also noted, instead of communal violence, gender violence is high in India, which is backed by figures enumerated in the data.
"More than communal violence, gender violence is high in India. Women suffer a very great deal from the moment they are in the womb. Women suffer hugely In India," he said.
"The data clearly shows that gender violence has taken on mass proportion, 500,000 women are killed in the womb - that is mass violence," he added.
"One thing has to be clearly understood, when a writer receives his award he is not receiving from the government. He is receiving it from the Indian society, so, when he returns his award he actually is returning it to the Indian society. He is actually passing a comment on Indian society, not on the government," he said.
"Thereby, I want to respectfully raise a question if they are returning their awards - they essentially are saying that the Indian society is communal - 1.25 billion people have become communal," he added.
Asked if he would support the counter-protest against writers returning their awards, Tripathi said, "Any kind of debate, like I said, people have a right to return awards and protest against writers returning awards. Look, we are a free country. We have a right to express our point of view."