Jaipur: Controversial author Salman Rushdie has been asked to stay away from the much talked about Jaipur Literature Festival. The organizers of the lit fest have asked the author to back off following protests from Islamist groups.
Anticipating trouble, the Rajasthan government asked the organizers to request Rushdie to call of his visit to India.
Sources state that the Rajasthan government felt that Rushdie’s visit would be a security threat for the state especially after certain radical groups raised objection over his visit.
The organizers of the Jaipur Lit Fest issued a statement saying, “Salman Rushdie will not be in India on January 20 due to a change in his schedule. The festival stands by its invitation to Mr Rushdie."
The events that were to involve the Booker winning author are no longer listed on the festival’s website. Rushdie was scheduled to speak on January 20 and 21.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot met the Home Minister in New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss Rushdie’s visit.
While the CM was not keen to host the author in his state, the Centre also spoke on similar lines and admitted that his visit could create tension within the state. “We can’t stop him from coming. But Rushdie should consider the sentiments of all the groups,” Gehlot was quoted as saying.
While the organizers of the festival did provide an official statement about Rushdie absence from the event, some of them individually refuted the entire news. Namita Gokhale, one of the directors Jaipur Lit Fest said, "Salman Rushdie is attending the Jaipur Literature Festival but he will not be there on the opening day."
Jaipur literature festival producer Sanjoy Roy said, "Salman Rushdie is coming. Nothing has changed. We have shifted the dates."
Rushdie had a fatwa against him since 1989 after the publication of `The Satanic Verses`. The fatwa was eased in 1998, but not withdrawn, when Mohd Khatami`s government in Iran said it had no intention of helping anyone enforce it.