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Taslima should behave like guest only: Pranab

December 22, 2007 19:31 IST

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen will be allowed to stay in India if she behaved like a guest.

"She is a guest and should behave like a guest. She should not do anything that would hurt the people's sentiment," Pranab said while denying a report that the author was virtually under house arrest.

The External Affairs minister was in Kolkata to lay foundation stone of the Centre for Milimetrewave Semicondoctor Devices and Systems at the Calcutta University.

Pranab had on Friday informed that Taslima should talk to officials of the ministry if she faced any problems.

Meanwhile, several 'intellectuals' took out a silent rally in Kolkata in support of the controversial author. Over a hundred theatre artists and human right activists demanded that the author be allowed to stay in the place of her own choice.

Starting from Academy of Fine Arts, the processionists, led by Magsaysay-winning writer and social worker Mahasweta Devi, walked for about two kilometre along the downtown Chowringhee Road before congregating at the Esplanade.

Others who participated in the procession included theatre personalities Bibhas Chakraborty, Shaonli Mitra and Kaushik Sen and painter Shuvaprasanna, besides a number of human rights activists.

Accusing the Centre of towing Communist Party of India-Marxist's line by keeping Taslima out of Kolkata, Mahasweta Devi said: "Without CPI-M, Congress will cease to exist. Therefore, it has to support the CPI-M blindly."

"Our protest is against the inhuman treatment to Taslima by both the West Bengal government and the Centre. We want that she be allowed to stay at any place in India that she chooses to," said noted actor-director Aparna Sen.

The central government had given an ultimatum to the controversial writer to either stay in Delhi and confined as official direction or leave the country.

Soon after this Taslima had decided to put her next novel on hold, which was scheduled to be released during the Kolkata Book Fair in January.

"With such trauma, I won't be able to complete the book," she said.

Following violent protests in Kolkata by a little known Muslim group, which demanded her deportation from the country, Taslima was whisked out of the city last month to Rajasthan and from there to an undisclosed location in Delhi.

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