Rushdie to address Jaipur Fest via video link

JAIPUR: Booker Prize winning author Salman Rushdie will address the Jaipur Literature Festival via video conference on Tuesday. Rushdie will address the Jaipur Festival at 3.45 pm on Tuesday.

Published: 23rd January 2012 12:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:20 PM   |  A+A-

JAIPUR: Booker Prize winning author Salman Rushdie will address the Jaipur Literature Festival via video conference on Tuesday. Rushdie will address the Jaipur Festival at 3.45 pm on Tuesday.

Rushdie had decided against attending the Literature Festival in person, claiming that he was informed by intelligence sources in Maharasthra and Rajasthan that paid hitmen from the Mumbai underworld were out to "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.

However, Rajasthan Home Ministry sources told CNN-IBN that the Literature Festival organisers have not contacted them on Rushdie using video conferencing to address the event. The sources said that the Festival organiser will have to get permission for allowing Rushdie to use the video link.

The sources added the government will decide after talking to the organisers about the theme and the topic and will give permission only if it is assured that he will not make any reference to 'The Satanic Verses'.

Earlier, four authors who read excerpts from Rusdhie's 'The Satanic Verses' left the Jaipur Literature Festival amidst speculation that they may be arrested if they stayed on.

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

William Dalrymple, 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.

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.


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