Don’t treat banned writers as heroes: Bhagat
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Last Updated: Sunday, January 22, 2012, 00:37
Jaipur: Celebrated Indian writer Chetan Bhagat on Saturday disapproved of authors of books banned for allegedly hurting religious sentiments being made "heroes", as the writing fraternity appeared divided over a group of authors reading out passages from Salman Rushdie's banned book.

"Let's not make heroes out of those people who are banned," Bhagat said at the ongoing Jaipur Literary Festival. Bhagat, however, said that violence and taking law into own hands are not acceptable.

"Everyone has the right to condemn things which they find offending. "If you have written something that hurts people, people have the right to condemn it. Of course taking law in your hands is not right," he said.

Rushdie continued to create ripples with four authors reading from his banned book 'Satanic Verses' yesterday after the India-born author announced cancellation of his visit citing death threats. The authors were slammed by the festival organisers who said they did not give consent for such actions.

The organisers even issued a strong statement last night making it clear that it was the authors who were responsible for their actions as they had gone ahead even after being stopped by the organisers.

Author S Anand reacted strongly at a session against the organisers' actions. "I support the stand taken by Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil and Rushir Joshi. I have sympathy for Rusdhie. And I want to express my outrage over the organisers who have acted with pusillanimity," said Anand.

Others were less stringent and more ambivalent over the events, with most saying that the festival organisers were responsible for the entire event and could not have allowed violation of law from their platform. "The organisers were quite right as they are responsible not only to the readers but also to other delegates and they have to take care of so many things.

"As for the writers, there's too was a democratic right and they exercised it," said playwright Girish Karnad. Eminent Malayalam author K Satchidanandan said the events of the day set him thinking and even when he was all for free speech, he believed some kind of restraint was needed here to prevent stoking unnecessary controversy.


First Published: Saturday, January 21, 2012, 21:32

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