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Pulitzer winner condemns Rushdie affair as "shameful"

New York: Terming the entire Salman Rushdie episode in Jaipur as "shameful", Pulitzer prize winning author David Remnick has said it reflects "troubling tendencies" of contemporary Indian politics where retaining power is more important for the government than freedom of expression.

"The shameful episode in Jaipur is, indeed, best seen in light of deeper, and troubling, tendencies of contemporary Indian politics," Remnick said, noting that the Jaipur Literary Festival ended in "misery and embarrassment".

"The government, spurred by Hindu and Muslim groups and clerics, rushes in to preserve order by decreeing, or tolerating, the suppression of free expression," he said, writing in the weekly magazine New Yorker.

Remnick said the fear of clerical protest "animates the current Indian government, which is far more interested in retaining power than in freedom of expression, much less making life pleasant for Salman Rushdie and his readers."

He said organizers of the festival seemed no match for the "complicated forces in play" and despite their devotion to free speech and literature, "from the start, they seemed blindsided, backed into corners, and constantly backpedalling."

PTI

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