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Taslima 'forced' to leave India again

Debaprio D Choudhury | November 14, 2008 16:05 IST

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Exiled Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen [Images] has again been "forced" to leave India after her brief stay in the country, prompting the controversial writer to question India's secular credentials.

The writer, who returned to India on August 8, said she had to leave on October 15 following the government's dictum.

"Yes, I was forced to leave India once again... The government gave me resident permit for six months with a secret condition that I must leave the country in a few days," she told PTI in an e-mail interview.

The ex-physician-turned-feminist author, who is under attack from Muslim fundamentalists for her book Lajja, said she is now somewhere in Europe, delivering lectures.

Taslima's second exit from India comes seven months after she was forced to leave the country in view of protests by fundamentalist groups against her presence.

Prior to her departure, she had been living in Kolkata since 1994 after being exiled from Bangladesh over her book, which was dubbed anti-Islam by the fundamentalists.

"The condition of getting permission to reside in India is yet a direction for not to reside in India."

She said she will "go back" to India in January.

"As the door of Bangladesh is closed for me, my home, I still consider, is in India, in the West Bengal city of Kolkata. If I am not allowed to return there, then it is back to a nomadic existence again, without a land, without a home," the author said.

Expressing her angst over being shunted out again and again, she said "India, which prides itself of being the world's largest democracy, an allegedly secular state, could not give shelter to me."

"They (India) could not give shelter to a person whose entire life has been spent in the cause of secular humanism, a person without land or home, who regarded India as her land and Kolkata as her home," Taslima said.

"I was shocked to see that not a single political party, organisation or institution protested against the way I was treated (in India). Not many individuals, who are regarded as the standard-bearers of secularism, have spoken for me," said the Bengali writer of much talked-about books like Amar Meyebela (My Girlhood), Utal Hawa (Wild Wind) and Dwikhondito (Split-up in Two).

Asked whether she still preferred to live in Kolkata, the place from where she was forcibly ousted on November 22 last year, the two-time Ananda Award winner said, "Yes, I still prefer Kolkata."

"I hope I would be allowed to live in Kolkata. I also request Pranabbabu (Mukherjee, external affairs minister) and Buddhababu (West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya) to allow me to live in the city," she said.

The author also said she had no hard feelings against the West Bengal chief minister despite that fact that he banned her book Dwikhondito.

"I still respect Buddhababu even though he banned my book, which encouraged the fundamentalists to issue a fatwa against me and start a campaign ultimately resulting in my ouster from the City of Joy," said the recipient of Simone de Beauvoir Feminist Award, 2008.

Taslima said she is now writing her sixth autobiographical book.

"I am writing the sixth part of my autobiography while giving lectures on important issues like human rights and freedom of expression," she said.

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