Author Nayantara Sahgal on Tuesday said the message from those in power was clear -- either agree with them or suffer the consequences.
Sahgal, who was conferred with the first Bhai Vaidya Smruti Gaurav Puraskar in Pune, could not attend the award ceremony in person but a pre-recorded video speech was played at the event.
The award was received by noted author Kiran Nagarkar on behalf of Sahgal.
"We are living in an India that has no connection with our modern political past. Secularism is under attack. Equal rights and equal citizenship are in tatters, and Indians have been divided into Hindus and others," Sahgal said in the video clip.
"The truth is that this divide is not between Hindus and others. It is between a militant creed called Hindutva and those whom it calls others, and it is a negation of all that Hinduism represents," she added.
Sahgal asserted that many Hindus were opposed to this communal ideology and its political agenda of vengeance and violence against fellow Indians whom it termed as outsiders.
She said its objective was the setting up of a "Hindu Rashtra" in place of our secular democracy, in which the State would have no role in religion.
"Those whom Hindutva calls others are now classed as outsiders and the Muslims among them are being treated as enemies of the state," Sahgal said.
She added that a questioning mind, scientific outlook, rational approach, creative imagination and freedom of expression had no place in today's "backward-looking New India", which was ignoring the fact that the nation was a democracy.
"In a democracy, citizens are not arrested and jailed on false charges of sedition and on invented conspiracy theories. Citizens who are guilty of no crime are not publicly tortured and lynched because they are Muslims. Mob attacks on mainly Muslims do not take place. Christian churches do not get vandalised by mobs. Christianity is now under fire," she claimed.
Sahgal added that in a democracy, citizens were not shot dead by gun-toting motorcyclists, as had happened to five eminent rationalists and free thinkers who were killed for rejecting superstition in favour of reason and for their independent views.
Above all, she said in a democracy, criminals were arrested and convicted for their crimes.
"The reverse is happening here. Criminals roam free, protected and even congratulated by the ruling power," she said in the recorded speech.
"The message from those in power is clear. Either agree with us or suffer the consequences. All this is, of course, a direct attack on our Constitution which guarantees life, liberty and equality to all Indians," she stressed.