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4 authors who read from 'The Satanic Verses' leave Jaipur

January 22, 2012 15:18 IST
Salman Rushdie may have skipped the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival, but his controversial novel The Satanic Verses continues to create a buzz at the event.

At the session on 'The Literature of Protest' on Sunday (Day 3 of the festival), moderator S Anand read out from the book whose sale has been banned in India since November 1988, three months before Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Rushdie for writing the novel which many Muslims believe defiles Islam.

Critic Nilanjana Roy, who was in the audience at the session, said the four authors -- Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil, Ruchir Joshi -- who had read from The Satanic Verses on Friday had left Jaipur. They were asked to leave the festival (and the city), Roy said.

Kunzru, Kumar, Joshi and Thayil were reportedly told by the festival's organisers that their safety could not be ensured and that arrest warrants may be issued against them for reading from a banned book.

A little whie ago, Kunzru -- who is a British national, tweeted: 'On advice, I have left India. Sad not to be able to participate further in the jaipur jlf.'

Kumar is based in the United States; both Ruchir Joshi and Jeet Thayil live in India.

Nilanjana Roy plans to initiate a signature campaign to launch a legal battle so that the ban on Rushdie's fourth novel is lifted.

At the same session, novelist and Jaipur LitFest co-founder Namita Gokhale told the audience, "For better or for worse, definitely for the worse, this book is banned here. You are most welcome to protest at a public place at your time and cost. But we can't afford to risk the safety of other authors and the 50,000 audience present at the fest."

Talking about the reading, Anand told, "It is about standing up for an idea, ramrod straight. That's why I read out from a book that can't be named, by an author who cannot be here. I have nothing more to say."

Meanwhile, Rushdie has expressed dismay about how the Rajasthan police fabricated a threat to keep him from the Jaipur literary festival.

Also read:
Praveen Swami in The Hindu (external link): Salman Rushdie & India's new theocracy
Ruchir Joshi in India Today (external link): Judge Salman Rushdie on facts, not fiction

A Correspondent in Jaipur