00NEW DELHI: Relieved after getting a one-year extension on her residence permit, Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen has expressed hope that the government will consider giving her either a longer permit or a permanent one as she is the "daughter of this soil" and even her cat is Indian.
"India is my home. It would have been better if I did not need to worry every year. There is also the option of issuing residence permit for five or 10 years. I requested former home minister Rajnath Singh ji for this in 2014 as I want to live in India for rest of my life," she told PTI in an interview.
Nasreen's residence permit was extended for one year by the Home Ministry on Sunday.
She is a citizen of Sweden and has been getting residence permit on a continuous basis since 2004.
The 56-year-old writer was last week given a three-month residence permit following which she took to Twitter to request Home Minister Amit Shah to extend it for one year.
"I am called a foreigner but I feel like the daughter of this soil. I hope the government will reconsider giving me a permanent or a longer resident permit. I have passed 25 years in exile, still I have to worry every year about the ground beneath my feet. It affects my writing also," she said.
"I feel Delhi is the only place in the subcontinent where I can live peacefully. I would have been very happy if I could live in East or West Bengal but now it is not possible. Now, I want to live the rest of my life in Delhi. If you don't consider me Indian, my cat is Indian, who is like my daughter and has been with me for 16 years," she added.
Nasreen said that despite several countries offering her permanent residence, she chose India as she felt a cultural connect here.
"My home, my books, my clothes, and my documents everything is here. I don't have any home somewhere else. I am settled here. Why I should leave India," she said when asked about the reason for staying in the country.
"I am a European citizen but I left Europe and the US to live here. I chose India over all other countries which offered me citizenship or permanent resident permit," said Nasreen.
She feels that India is much more liberal than any other country in the world as far as freedom of speech is concerned.
"The Constitution gives you human rights and freedom of speech. There has been a lot of criticism of the government which gets published, so how can I say there is no freedom of speech. I have seen many nations where there is no such freedom," she said when asked about the notion in a section of society that there was curtailment of freedom of speech.
The author said there were such issues in the US as well during the Iraq war, but they happen several times and go away as well.
"It's not like nobody is allowed to criticize or oppose the government. Sometimes on social media we get attacked when we write something that people don't like. It happens but it is not that dangerous that I will be sent to jail. I don't think that it is an alarming situation in India," said the writer.
"As far as mob violence is concerned it is not staged by government. Some anti-social elements do it and they should be punished strictly," she said.
She said the English sequel of her popular novel 'Lajja' is getting released next year.
"I am writing so many things. In the beginning of next year Harper Collins will release the sequel of Lajja called 'Besharam (shameless)," Nasreen said.