Don't make controversial authors heroes: Bhagat

JAIPUR: Celebrated Indian writer Chetan Bhagat today disapproved of authors of books banned for allegedly hurting religious sentiments being made "heroes", as the writing fraternity

Published: 21st January 2012 09:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:19 PM   |  A+A-

JAIPUR: Celebrated Indian writer Chetan Bhagat today disapproved of authors of books banned for allegedly hurting religious sentiments being made "heroes", as the writing fraternity appeared divided over a group of authors reading out passages from Salman Rushdie's banned book.

"Let's not make heroes out of those people who are banned," Bhagat said at the ongoing Jaipur Literary Festival.

Bhagat, however, said that violence and taking law into own hands are not acceptable.

"Everyone has the right to condemn things which they find offending.

"If you have written something that hurts people, people have the right to condemn it. Of course taking law in your hands is not right," he said.

Rushdie continued to create ripples with four authors reading from his banned book 'Satanic Verses' yesterday after the India-born author announced cancellation of his visit citing death threats. The authors were slammed by the festival organisers who said they did not give consent for such actions.

The organisers even issued a strong statement last night making it clear that it was the authors who were responsible for their actions as they had gone ahead even after being stopped by the organisers.

Author S Anand reacted strongly at a session against the organisers' actions.

"I support the stand taken by Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil and Rushir Joshi. I have sympathy for Rusdhie.

And I want to express my outrage over the organisers who have acted with pusillanimity," said Anand.

Others were less stringent and more ambivalent over the events, with most saying that the festival organisers were responsible for the entire event and could not have allowed violation of law from their platform.

"The organisers were quite right as they are responsible not only to the readers but also to other delegates and they have to take care of so many things.

"As for the writers, there's too was a democratic right and they excercised it," said playwright Girish Karnad.

Eminent Malayalam author K Satchidanandan said the events of the day set him thinking and even when he was all for free speech, he believed some kind of restraint was needed here to prevent stoking unnecessary controversy.

"This morning I received a text from my daughter saying you should also read something from Rushdie.

"I respect that feeling and I wouldn't mind taking responsibility for my action, but then it might be putting organisers in some kind of problematic situation.

"There are other ways of protesting too. In fact, it was coming up in every setion in one form or other... there could have been some restraint, also from the organisers who came up with a statement dissociating themselves from the authors," Satchidanandan said.

Others said the authors knew what they were doing and would take responsibility for it.


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