DHAKA: Bangladeshi authorities on Tuesday barred Indian writer-activist Arundhati Roy for a second time from holding a discussion to be hosted by a government critic as police withdrew the permission for the venue.
The organisers of the talk title 'Utmost Everything' were informed at 10 pm on Monday that permission for the Booker Prize winning author's talk at the Krishibid Institute Auditorium, one of the venues of the photography exhibition Chobi Mela, was cancelled due to "unavoidable circumstances".
No further details were provided, the Chobi Mela Secretariat said in a statement. The venue for the talk, scheduled for Tuesday evening, was later shifted to Midas Centre in the Bangladesh capital, it said in its email statement.
The invited guests were asked to join the function at 5.30 pm but as they started arriving the venue, MIDAS staff informed them the programme was cancelled. "MIDAS authorities just told us they could not allow us to stage the event due to lack of police clearance," said Shahidul Alam, an anti-government activist known for his serious criticism against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government.
Roy's session was to be moderated by Alam, a photojournalist and festival director. The activist-teacher was behind bars for over 100 days last year for expressing solidarity with students protesting Dhaka's dismal road safety infrastructure.
This is the 10th edition of Chobi Mela, touted to be one of the most prestigious photography festivals in Asia. It features 33 exhibitions with works from 44 artists from 21 countries.
The festival that began on February 28 this year has the spotlight on the production, compilation, reminiscence, physical existence and social responsibility of archives in a global context, the Chobi Mela statement said. "Chobi Mela has and will continue to be about bringing people together and, more importantly, bringing them to Bangladesh," Alam, who is currently out on bail, said. The festival is scheduled to continue till March 9.