Visa to author Salman Rushdie is unlikely to be a big election issue for Muslims, who are more concerned with their day-to-day affairs, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday said.
“I do not believe there are many Muslims in India for whom visa to Salman Rushdie will be an election issue. They are more concerned with day to day concerns and future,” Mr. Omar told reporters here on Wednesday.
The Chief Minister, who chaired a Maha-Panchayat of village heads in Jammu city, said “I think we underestimate the intelligence of Indian Muslims when we try and raise issues like this which has a no bearing on the day-today concerns of Muslims.
“Is this the first time Rushdie is coming to India. As far as I know he has come before this also,” Omar said adding, “Why suddenly is it becoming an issue —— clearly, there are those who are seeking to exploit this for political purposes given that there are elections in five states in next month or two”.
“Rushdie has visited India before. If it was for the first time he is applying for a Visa, it might be different—— I do not think this is an issue that anybody should be concerned,” Mr. Omar said.
The Chief Minister further said, “We are more concerned with day to day livelihood issue of Muslims in the country.”
Mr. Rushdie had invited wrath of Muslims due to the alleged blasphemous content in his 1988 novel ‘The Satanic Verses’.
It was subsequently banned in India.
The recent row over Mr .Rushdie’s visit to country erupted when Vice Chancellor of a leading Islamic seminary, Darul Uloom Deoband, said on January 10 that the “Indian government should cancel his visa as Rushdie had annoyed the religious sentiments of Muslims in the past.”
However, the government ruled out barring Mr. Rushdie from visiting the country.