Rushdie row: 4 authors told to leave Jaipur Fest

JAIPUR: The Salman Rushdie row refuses to die down as the four authors who read excerpts from Rusdhie\'s \'The Satanic Verses\' have already left the Jaipur Literature Festival amidst speculation

Published: 23rd January 2012 10:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:20 PM   |  A+A-

JAIPUR: The Salman Rushdie row refuses to die down as the four authors who read excerpts from Rusdhie's 'The Satanic Verses' have already left the Jaipur Literature Festival amidst speculation that they may be arrested if they had stayed on.

Sources say that the festival organisers had unofficially asked the four to leave the venue. The four authors, Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi struck a defiant note by reading from the banned book on Friday after Rushdie called off his visit citing death threats.

William Dalrmpyle, Festival Director, said, "There was a threat of arrest to the authors. MF Hussain's lawyer advised them to leave. We are in touch with all of them. We didn't know it's an arrestable offence. We support solidarity with Salman Rushdie but within law."

The festival organisers insisted that the four acted of their own will. Meanwhile, Rushdie drummed up support with Oprah Winfrey and spiritual guru Deepak Chopra both rooting for him.

The author community at the Jaipur Literature Festival seemed divided over Rushdie. Chetan Bhagat said that we need to accept that Rushdie has hurt Muslim sentiments. Deepak Chopra said 'Satanic Verses' doesn't deserve a ban or fatwa. "I have read 'Satanic Verses' and and I think Salman Rushdie is unjustly vilified," he said.

Oprah Winfrey has also lodged her support for the controversial writer, saying she doesn't support the banning of books.

Earlier, Salman Rushdie on Sunday slammed the Rajasthan police for allegedly inventing a plot to keep him away.

Rushdie tweeted: "I've investigated, and believe that I was indeed lied to. I am outraged and very angry. Don't know who gave orders. And yes I guess the same police who want to arrest Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi. Disgusting."

A complaint has been filed in Jaipur against four authors who read from Salman Rushdie's banned book 'Satanic Verses' at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.

"We received the complaint yesterday and are examining it. It is a complaint and no FIR has been lodged so far," A Mohammad, SHO of Ashok Nagar police station, on Sunday said.

Rushdie was referring to the three authors and the poet who dared to read excerpts from his banned book 'Satanic Verses' at the Festival to lodge their protest over Rushdie's absence on Day 1.

Rushdie also posted a link to a news report that said local intelligence officials in Rajasthan had "invented" information about the assassination plot against him to keep him from attending the literary event. His accompanying tweet read, "Here's the story. Astonishing."

The author had dropped plans to attend the literature festival saying he was informed by intelligence sources in Maharasthra and Rajasthan that paid hitmen from the Mumbai underworld will "eliminate" him if he came to India.

Rushdie had expressed doubts about the "accuracy" of the intelligence but said in a statement that it would be "irresponsible" on his part to still attend the festival and put the lives of other authors and participants in danger.

Meanwhile, in what could further stoke the Salman Rushdie controversy, a section of authors at the Jaipur Literature Festival launched a campaign demanding immediate lifting of the 23-year-old ban on the controversial writer's book 'The Satanic Verses'.

"We strongly urge the government to reconsider the ban on The Satanic Verses," read a petition put forward by the authors led by writer Nilanjana Roy.

The book by the India-born author was banned in the country in 1988 for allegedly having blasphemous content hurting the sentiments of Muslims.

The petition claimed that 'The Satanic Verses' "has not incited violence anywhere. Others have used the novel's existence to incite violence to suit their political ends.

"Within India, in the 23 years since the ban, we have witnessed an erosion of respect for freedom of expression, as artists like MF Husain, Chandramuhun Srimantula, Jatin Das, and Balbir Krishan have been intimidated, and works of writers like Rohinton Mistry and AK Ramanujan have been withdrawn because of threats by groups claiming to be offended," the petition said.

India is one of the very few countries in the world where the ban stands, placing it alongside Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Malaysia, Liberia and Papua New Guinea, among others, the petition said.


Amrita Tripathi


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