Complaint against authors who opt out of Lit Fest

Last Updated: Sunday, January 22, 2012 - 20:21

Jaipur: The Salman Rushdie row refused to
die down on Sunday with a police complaint being filed against the
four authors who read out portions from the controversial
author`s banned book `Satanic Verses` at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

The four authors, Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil
and Rushir Joshi, who struck a defiant note by reading from
the banned book on Friday after Rushdie called off his visit
citing death threats, opted out of the five-day meet.
The festival organisers, who had issued a strong
statement distancing themselves from the actions of the four
authors, today dismissed reports which said the writers have
been forced to leave.

"They were not asked to leave," festival organiser Namita
Gokhale clarified.

"We received a complaint which is being examined. It is a
complaint and no FIR has been lodged so far," said A Mohammad,
SHO of Ashok Nagar police station. The complainant Ashok Kumar
has demanded action against the authors.
While crowdpuller TV mogul Oprah Winfrey was addressing a
session, high drama was witnessed in a separate wing with
publisher S Anand lashing out at the organisers for not
supporting Rushdie and the four authors.

To emphasise his point, Anand quoted from Rushdie "What
kind of idea are you" which led to applause from the audience.

He said, "We have been discussing about books....there
are other writers and authors like Salman Rudhie. There is
Oprah and whatever happens there is no excuse to say this
controversy should shut down our voices."

Gokhale intervened to say, "It was hurtful of Anand who
has been coming here for many years to suggest that we have
asked the four authors to leave.

"I want to explain that what is most hurtful is that the
festival has over 265 authors and writers who are being
sidelined due to this ...the police and the state government
have been cooperating with us... we have the responsibility to
ensure the safety of those who are attending the festival,"
said Gokhale.

She said there were some sections of people who "were
spreading the wrong idea" and requested "everyone to behave

Pakistani Author Mohammad Haneef also came out in support
of Rushdie.

"I find it quite bizarre. This is the world`s biggest
democracy, the most multi-cultural society you can have and I
think it`s sad that Rushdie has not been able to come. I think
it`s the state`s basic role to provide security to its
citizens and visitors and to me it seems the state has failed
in its most basic duty," he said.

A day after his comments Salman Rusdhie?s writings made
headlines, popular author Chetan Bhagat today said the
Midnight?s Children author was a hero for him as well but he
does not believe in using the medium of literature to hurt
peoples’ sentiments.

"It is not about myself verses Rushdie, there is no
question," shot out the author when asked to comment on the
issue yet again on the sidelines of the festival.

"I am a humble writer. I cannot match up to him. He won
the Booker the year I was born," Bhagat said.

But, at the same time he reiterated his stand that
religious sentiments in India have to be respected.

The community of authors here appeared divided over the
controversy with some supporting the four authors and
others advocating restraint.

Bhagat was one of the few who spoke strongly against
promoting Rushdie?s controversial writings.

"He is a hero as far as his others writings are
concerned, but writing something that attacks somebody?s god
is not the right thing to do. I would not make him a hero on
that count," he said while responding to questions.


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First Published: Sunday, January 22, 2012 - 20:21

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