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Updated: January 18, 2012 11:49 IST

Rushdie's participation in literature festival uncertain

Sunny Sebastian
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TO BE OR NOT TO BE: Indian born writer Salman Rushdie
TO BE OR NOT TO BE: Indian born writer Salman Rushdie

There is a big question mark over the participation of noted author of Indian origin and Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie in the Jaipur Literature Festival 2012, starting here on Friday, in the wake of protests from orthodox Muslim groups and the Rajasthan government's apprehension of a law and order situation.

Mr. Rushdie had been here for the 2007 JLF.

The organisers have already removed Mr. Rushdie's name from the list of participants and come out with a terse statement: “Salman Rushdie will not be in India on 20th Jan. due to a change in his schedule. The festival stands by its invitation to Mr. Rushdie.”

Everyone involved with the five-day festival, which has become a big draw for writers, publishers and literature lovers the world over, is being either diplomatic or politically correct in his utterances.

January 20 happens to be a Friday and the Muslim groups that are adamant about stopping Mr. Rushdie have given a call to the “believers” to assemble at the City's Jama Masjid for protests after Friday prayers.

The Congress government has taken the stand that if his arrival creates a law and order situation, then it will be a cause for concern to the State. The Congress party in Rajasthan jumped on the bandwagon of protesters against Mr. Rushdie. State party chief Chandra Bhan supported the demand of the Muslim groups, while the party MP from Jaipur Mahesh Joshi asked the government to stop Mr. Rushdie's participation. The State BJP too has asked the government to stop Mr. Rushdie from participating.

Mr. Gehlot met Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi. They reportedly discussed the socio-political and law and order implications of Mr. Rushdie's visit — especially in the context of the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and other States. The Chief Minister also met Salman Khurshid, Union Minister for Minorities Affairs.

“We have no official communication on Mr. Rushdie,” Mr. Gehlot told mediapersons in New Delhi. “Some Muslim organisations had submitted a memorandum to the government requesting it to stop Mr. Rushdie on account of his objectionable comments on Islam in his books. I have intimated their sentiments to the Centre.”

Chief Secretary S. Ahmad said he did not have any information. “You please ask the organisations. They will be able to tell you,” he said when this correspondent contacted him.

“This is an opportunistic stand. The Chief Minister has given in too easily,” charged Kavita Srivastava, general secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan. Ms. Srivastava, along other human rights activists, staged a rally at Jaipur Ambedkar Circle here in protest against attempts to stop Mr. Rushdie. “We condemn such protests against Mr. Rushdie's visit. The Chief Minister has gone all the way to Delhi to say that Mr. Rushdie is a security risk. This is just a clumsy excuse to stop him,” Ms. Srivastava said.

“Most of the opposition to Mr. Rushdie from the Muslim groups is based on misinformation,” said M. Hasan, a Muslim intellectual and former Professor at the HCM Rajasthan Institute of Public Administration. “Muslims can protest against the visit of Mr. Rushdie, though the protests appear to me to be a diversion from the basic issues facing the Muslim community in Rajasthan. I wish Jaipur Muslims knew their priorities,” noted Prof. Hasan, a regular at the festival.

“I have a strong feeling that the coming elections in U.P. have something to do with all this.”

This govt is shaming itself by looking helpless. On the one hand Congress leaders advise, instigate, incite and make public statements against SR's visit.On the other hand the home ministry sends advisories.One knows that there is hardly a separation between the govt and the Congress party. Come on, you are not fooling anyone.You are crawling in front of Muslim hardliners. Govt can spend billions to provide Z type security to every penny weight politician here. They virtually look like modern day Chambal avatar with horses relaced by SUVs.And here the govt can't take the responsibility to protect a writer.

from:  Vishwanath
Posted on: Jan 19, 2012 at 10:01 IST

Where are the so called seculars who only feel threatend by hindu fundamentalist.Congress has set new height in appeasment poltics with eye on UP election.This govt is setting a very dangerous precedent whose leaders only cry when incident like Batla house encounter take place.They do it because they know that urban masses will remember these issue for short while and then forget it all.They know that as a vote bank urban's not matter. It is the time when urban masses has to wake up and teach these people a lesson in elections.This is the attack on India's secular and democratic ethos and we must confront it in every possible manner.

Posted on: Jan 18, 2012 at 11:50 IST

India is a secular nation and all Indians are proud of that. M.F.HUSSAIN could not live in
India and a foreign nation voluntarily granted citizenship to him and finally he breathed his
Last from London. Rushdie was invited to participate in the Jaipur literary function and he
accepted the invitation and should have been in India on the 20th instant. Now the
organizers are not in a position to confirm about his arrival or his participation at this
prestigious meet. We werevin a position to select persons from religious communities to
the positions of the president, the vice-president, the chief justice of the supreme court of
India and the prime minister and by this we could project India as a great secular nation in
The world. The right thinking populace will feel sad on the fate of late HUSSAIN and the
Attempted boycott of a Muslim writer of repute in the world. Who is responsible for this
Development. This approach is not in national interests.

from:  C.p.Chandra das
Posted on: Jan 18, 2012 at 08:46 IST

Its a sad state of affairs when people who push the boundary of human understanding are tied down by stone age conformism. It's about time that Muslims of secular India understand the historic aspect of Islam rather than the supernatural and read SV in that context. Literature can be truly rewarding. As an unbeliever, I am "offended" to use a fashionable term, at the developments. I would love to have seen Rushdie enlighten the so called "enlightened"!

from:  Reju
Posted on: Jan 18, 2012 at 03:53 IST

It's an absolute shame on the ruling party in the State of Rajasthan and in the Center that they should succumb to the demand of certain muslim politiicans against author Rushdie's participation in the Jaipur literary conference. This is one more incident among many that the Congress party is known to placate its muslim vote bank. Unfortunately, the Congress is still playing the same old appeasement game that they played during the freedom struggle that eventually paved the way for the partition of the country on socalled religious basis. As the Author "An Obscure Hindu" had forewarned in his writings in the early sixties, "the left-over Muslim politicians will one day demand another Pakistan out of the truncated India and the backboneless Congress will give it again". God Save India from her "Leaders".

from:  Jag in USA
Posted on: Jan 18, 2012 at 01:42 IST

It is quite clear that such sensitive issues are taken up in the political way in the context of the forthcoming elections. On the other side, it is shame for the country because of the adamant nature of people. "incredible" India.... Way to go. People who fast against corruption, will never dare to speak against this, not only because of the sensitive nature, but they are fearful. We need a social reform, which should be strictly intensive in nature. Even the fight between two states on Mullaperiyar, falls in the similar category. But nobody cares about this seriuosly, but tries to find short-term solutions to get away with the elections.

from:  Sajeer Fazil
Posted on: Jan 18, 2012 at 00:08 IST

Mr.Rushdie is an NRI holding the OCI card given to him by the
government of India, that assures him free and unfettered entry into
his country at any time of his choice. If not, the OCI is a worthless
paper from a government that has to be considered equally worthless. No
one, not even the highest authority of the Republic can stop him. The
government,State or central should not get jitters over the threat of
some Muslim Radicals who think it is they who can grant entry visa for
anyone planning to visit India. This is the right and appropriate time
for the government to put this arrogant bunch in it's place. Any
vacillation on the part of the government to be firm on this issue and
show it's grit would only go to make it impotent. Buckling under the
unlawful pressures from communal organizations,keeping in view the
elections ahead,would deeply undermine the standing of India in the
comity of Nations.

from:  T.Sathyamurthi
Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 at 23:59 IST

In case of M F Hussain, our honorable home minister was quick to
announce that full security cover will be provided to Hussain if he
were to visit India. What stops home minister (and others in state
govt) to give similar assurance to Mr Rushdie?
This silence, rather covert effort to persuade Mr Rushdie NOT to visit
India, confirms once again that political parties cater only to the
demands of extremists who undoubtedly are a small fraction of Indian

from:  Sunil
Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 at 23:23 IST

IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA.....everyone has a right of having a personal notion about anything under the sun so, if a particular community is hurt wth something written by Mr.Rushdie its not the only way to show there anger because he wrote however he got it right and here if we see Mr.Rushdie as only a reputed literary figure and let him attend the festival ther would be no harm on the contrary this political drama would make it worse. And moreover, having being known as a writer dose not license you for never-ever committing any mistakes in life....

from:  gehna shastri
Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 at 22:45 IST
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