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Updated: February 2, 2012 04:30 IST

Official release of Taslima's book cancelled

    Ananya Dutta
    Shiv Sahay Singh
Comment (13)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen. File photo
The Hindu
Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen. File photo

Before the storm over the absence of Salman Rushdie at the Jaipur Literature Festival abated, another controversy has broken out, this time at the 36 Kolkata International Book Fair. On Wednesday, the publishers of a book written by Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen were not allowed to release it as per schedule.

Even as Kolkata police officers said they had received complaints from the Milli Ittehad Parishad, a minority outfit, about the promotion of the book, the publishers released it outside their stall at the fair.

There was commotion outside the bookstall with the arrival of some Muslim clerics, accompanied by All-India Minorities Forum president Idris Ali. But they left the area before any disruption could be caused. This was followed by a protest march by Ms. Nasreen's supporters and friends.

The book, Nirbasan (Exile), is the seventh volume of an autobiographical series and includes her recollections of the incidents that led to her ouster from the city in 2007. Her controversial Dwikhandita (Split in two) is the third book in the series and was banned by the West Bengal government. But the ban was lifted by the Calcutta High Court.

Nirbasan was scheduled to be released at an auditorium on the premises of the Book Fair grounds during the day, but the organisers, Publishers and Booksellers Guild, cancelled the event at the eleventh-hour.

On police advice

“[The] Kolkata police asked [the] Kolkata Book Fair committee to cancel my book release programme,” Ms. Nasreen tweeted at 3 p.m.

“We had booked the auditorium, but the organisers told us that it would not be available. Initially, they told us that there were no chairs in the auditorium. When we said we did not mind standing, they told us that that minority groups were protesting and had approached the city police over the release of the book. To prevent any disturbance…, we were asked to cancel the programme,” said Shibani Mukherji of the People's Book Society, publisher of the series.

“Political opportunism”

Bengali author Nabaran Bhattacharya, who released the book, condemned the “political opportunism” of some groups and questioned the “change” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had promised to bring about in the State. “We are living in times when no political force is standing by writers. I request readers to stand by writers in times like this.”

Readers did respond to the controversy, with a hundred copies having been sold out in the first hour itself.

A senior police officer said the police had received complaints from the Milli Ittehad Parishad, but the decision to hold the event rested with the Publishers and Booksellers Guild. “Adequate security arrangements were there at the venue.”

The Guild said it decided to cancel the event in the public interest and to preserve communal harmony on the premises of the Book Fair grounds.

The Guild said it had received a phone call in the morning, and the caller said the event would vitiate the secular atmosphere of the fair.

The present trend of both the central &state govts of buckling in to the protests of religious fundamentalists points to the fact there are no such govts. Banning her book "lajja" is one thing, but why not release her new book in INDIA?? Poor lady is in exile and these guardians of the almighty want even to seal her lips!!! Time has come to callit a day and put down the protests ruthlessly

from:  chandrasekhara Ramanna
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 08:20 IST

The publisher of Taslima Nasreen has shown guts in releasing her book in their own stall. If the Kolkata police had shown half as much guts, they wouldn't have made themselves the laughingstock of the world. What happened to the valour with which they fought and suppressed mob violence all these years? Are a bunch of people, possibly illiterate, more dangerous than Maoist guerrillas who the police have successfully defanged?
What is at issue here is not Taslima Nasreen. The persecuted Bangladeshi author has never got a fair deal from West Bengal and Indian authorities anyway. What is at issue is the reputation of India as one of the most vibrant democracies in the world. It earned that reputation because of the freedom of expression enshrined in its Constitution. A bunch of hoodlums has been steadily shredding that Constitution. Hoodlums acting in that manner doesn't surprise anyone. The deplorable failure on the part of the authorities to uphold and defend the Constitution does.

from:  M.P. Prabhakaran
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 23:34 IST

Hats off to the publishers for standing up for literary freedom. Compare this to
the hamhanded and cowardly manner in which the organisers of Jaipur literary
fest handled Salman Rushdie controversy.

from:  sanjay
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 22:32 IST

These days anything happens in our country is easily prone to controversies. Is it shows that the fundamentalist elements have grown so rapidly that anything unlike to their dictates are pitted against threats and sabotage? Governence and law order has taken such a dangerous dip in our country? OR is it a strategy to create controversy and get out of proportion publicity?
It is high time for all the progressive minded section of the society to raise their voice against intolerence and vandalism. The administrative machinery should not remain a spectator and should not allow this type of intolerence to develop and tide over the secular fabric.

from:  soman sreedharan
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 20:26 IST

Seems like it is becoming a trend to protest the book which you don't like. I am not getting it what is wrong with us.No one seeing what the author want to convey in that particular book, just his/her name is sufficient to protest the book. I wonder if after sometime some one says we should stop publishing history books because it shows us the real and bitter truth of my community in the past. Is this what we want, heading towards the cave age.
It is really shame to see there are always someone who will try to provoke the sentiments of a particular community and ask to protest something, but where are our law and order guardian whose jobs is to secure the very constitutional right, right to express yourself. Until we strongly protest these PROTESTS, we will never be able to think liberal.Period.

from:  pankaj
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 19:56 IST

Highly condemnable capitulation on the part of the owners of the hall, on the criminal silence of the government and the so called secular crowd of hypocrites who have gone into the silent mode. Is it not time to rein in the rogue elements of our society?

from:  Dr S. Srinivasan
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 19:02 IST

Freedom is a poor girl, lives in BHARAT. Some people have kidnapped her for the sake of religion which in it self is not Bharateeya.

from:  kaushalendra
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 18:26 IST

Its strange why Taslima is continuously targeted. Having read her book "Lajja", i did not find a single word which is derogatory if Islam. The book merely reflects on Bangladesh's society in treating its minorities. There is a wrong perception that she has denigrated Islam.

from:  Shekhar
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 18:22 IST

Where is right under Article 19 and 21 Art 19 includes International Human Rights. Incidentally India is a signatory. Can small groups take laws for granted? very sad.

from:  dr. g. balakrishnan
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 17:50 IST

It seems fundamentalists now will decide which book can be published or
released. Suddenly these fundamentalists are findings 'untouchables'
have invaded in literature. If situation continues like these field of
literature will be void by quality writers. So we should not bow our
heads to them rather all intellectuals, academicians, scholars irrespective of their caste, creed , religion should join for condemning
such cowardly act.

from:  Dr Shankar Chatterjee
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 17:48 IST

What is Taslima's fault? She is a writer only. She does not hurt anybody, depicts tragedy of her own life and observations about the surroundings. One may differ with her views and contend those by counter-write ups. Readers are the ultimate judges. Let them decide whether they will read her books or not. No authoritarian bar should be there.

from:  Raisul Huq Bahar
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 17:31 IST

It is unfortunate that religious fundamentalists are having a field day. They are challenging the secular basis of the country.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 17:28 IST

Taslima's book released despite protests- This is India and ours is a
secular country .A country where people have the right to religion of
their choice. Every Religion has its merits and demerits and in a
democratic country everyone has right to view their opinion.If one doesn't like it just ignore it and if any one likes it then let him or
her relish it and satisfy his or her self. But non should be allowed
to display nomadic fanaticism like that of illiterate Arab world where
people are treated as cattle and they are made to follow a faith blindly be it wrong or right but then that's their world for centuries and they enjoy living that way but in our country if any one try to project Arab antics then he or she should be asked to at once leave he country and go to some Arab world and live like a third class citizen but by living here he or she should not dream of being a sheikh. l

from:  Subash Das
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 17:21 IST
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