Don’t treat banned writers as heroes: Bhagat

Celebrated Indian writer Chetan Bhagat disapproved of authors of books banned for allegedly hurting religious sentiments being made "heroes".

Updated: Jan 22, 2012, 00:37 AM IST

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
"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

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.