Jaipur: Even in absence, author Salman
Rushdie continued to cast his shadow on the Jaipur Literature
Festival despite the presence of crowdpuller TV mogul Oprah
While Winfrey was addressing a session, high drama was
witnessed in a separate wing as Publisher S Anand clashed with
organisers of the festival for distancing themselves from the
controversial author and those who supported him.
As Anand, who was moderating a session on the "Literature
of Protest", lashed out, festival organiser Namita Gokhale
walk in with an immediate clarification.
Four authors - Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil and
Ruchir Joshi- had created a ripple at the festival by reading
out from Rusdhie`s "Satanic Verses", after the India-born
author announced cancellation of his visit citing death
Festival organisers had issued a strong statement
dissociating themselves from the actions of the four authors,
against whom a case was registered for the act of reading from
a banned book at a public platform .
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.
"The festival is still looking after their safety and they
were not asked 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,"
She said there were some sections of people who "were
spreading the wrong idea" and requested "everyone to behave
After the authors` protest residing of Satanic Verses,
organisers had said they were responsible for preventing any
violation of law at the festival and such actions cannot be
Gokhale said today, "We must talk abut Salman Rushdie and
read Salman Rushdie. But the law of India for better or for
worse has banned the book (Satanic Verses)... and the readings
should not be at the cost and consequence of people who have
travelled to the festival."
She also said while it was important to always stand up
and and give voice to questioning censorship, they should do
"There is no problem with talking about the Satanic Verses
and other writings of the Booker Prize winner but not at the
cost of those who have travelled from far and wide across the
globe to attend the festival," she said.
The full quote of Rushdie`s "What kind of idea are you"
reads: "What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that
compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims
to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed,
bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damn fool notion that
would rather break than sway with the breeze. The kind that
will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be
smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the
Malayalam poet K Satchidanandan who was on the panel
moderated by Anand chose to read out a poem on Irom Sharmila,
who is demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act
(AFSPA) in Manipur.
"We discuss a lots of protests but Sharmila has been
carrying out a fast for the last 10 years. This poem is for
her," he said.
Earlier today, Rushdie, who called off his India visit
citing threat to his life, tweeted, "Rajasthan police invented
plot to keep away Rushdie` I`ve investigated, & believe that I
was indeed lied to. I am outraged and very angry."