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Intellectuals seek freedom for Taslima
December 27, 2007 18:45 IST
Prominent intellectuals on Thursday asked the government to relax curbs put on Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen [Images], living in an undisclosed location in New Delhi for the last one month, saying that she feels like she is 'buried alive'.
The intellectuals, including veteran journalist Khushwant Singh and writer Arundhati Roy, in separate letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and Congress president Sonia Gandhi [Images], said Nasreen should be allowed to exercise 'reasonable degree of freedom' while she gets adequate security.
Their intervention came in the wake of the Centre asking the author, who was forced to leave Kolkata following protests by fundamentalists, to refrain from coming out in public or freely meeting people, restrictions described as 'house arrest' by Nasreen.
"While we can understand the need for adequate security, we think this is carrying things too far. Please ensure that while she still gets adequate security, she is allowed to exercise a 'reasonable degree of freedom', the letter said.
They claimed that they came to know from Nasreen that the conditions under which she is 'now living under the care of central government was close to prison conditions'.
"It is like being buried alive", the letter quoted Nasreen as saying.
Nasreen told them that despite her repeated requests to the officials in charge of her security, she was neither allowed to receive her friends nor to visit them.
'The gaol-like conditions are naturally beginning to strain Taslima's mental health. She can neither sleep at night nor do any work,' the letter said.
'Each request to meet someone has yielded the same response: The government has ordered that you neither go out yourself or to meet anyone where you stay,' the letter said.
The intellectuals alleged that any plea by Nasreen for leading a normal life, if not in Kolkata, then at least in Delhi, are all 'summarily rejected without offering her any explanation'.
The letter said the author of controversial books like Lajja and Dwikhandito lives in the fear that even her cellphone and laptop will soon be confiscated.
'Such conditions are unfair even for a prisoner, let alone for a writer,' they said.