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I don't need a visa to visit India: Salman Rushdie

Last updated on: January 10, 2012 21:41 IST

I don't need a visa to visit India: Salman Rushdie

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi

Reacting sharply to the demand made by various Muslim outfits in the country that author Salman Rushdie should not be allowed to enter India, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh spokesperson Ram Madhav has described it as outrageous as it seeks to curtail Rushdie's right to travel, as the celebrated author is not visiting India to take part in a political event. Onkar Singh reports.

"Rushdie is not coming to attend a political event. This is the height of fundamentalism," Madhav told rediff.com on Tuesday.

Various Muslim organisations have been protesting against Rushdie's visit as he wrote The Satanic Verses -- a controversial book in which he allegedly made provocative remarks against the Prophet and the Muslim religion.

All India Majlees-e-Mushwarat President Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan told rediff.com that even though his organisation would not be protesting against Rushdie's visit, he would not rule out similar protest marches being organised by other outfits such as the Deoband etc who hold equally strong views on Rushdie's novel.

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Image: Salman Rushdie


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'He should be sent back to the UK'

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"Rushdie should not be allowed to attend the event in Jaipur. He may be holding a Person of Indian Origin card, but that does not entitle him to travel to India if the government does not want him to do so," Khan said.

"I recall that once when he was visiting India he was not allowed to visit Kashmir. I feel that the best course open for the government is that in the event he does reach India, he should be put on another plane and sent back to the United Kingdom," said Khan.

The government not said anything about a denial of visa to Rushdie, but a senior ministry of external affairs official clarified that since Rushdie holds a PIO pass, he could visit India at any point of time without a visa.

Meanwhile, Rushdie brushed aside opposition to his India trip by top Islamic Seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, saying he does not need a visa to visit the country.

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Image: The Satanic Verses


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'He has hurt religious sentiments in the past'

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"Regarding my Indian visit, for the record, I don't need a visa," posted Rushdie on microblogging site Twitter in the wake of demands by Deoband that the Indian government cancel his visa as he had hurt religious sentiments of Muslims in the past. Indian-origin Rushdie, who has a British passport and holds a PIO card, is scheduled to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival this month end.

Vice Chancellor of Darul Uloom Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani had said on Monday that the "Indian government should cancel his visa as Rushdie had annoyed the religious sentiments of Muslims in the past."

Sixty-five-year-old Rushdie had earned the wrath of Muslims worldwide due to the alleged blasphemous content in his novel The Satanic Verses which was published in 1988.

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Image: The Dar ul-Uloom madrasa at Deoband


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'A literary platform provides space for free speech'

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The novel, which was banned by India, had sparked outrage in the Muslim world, including a fatwa against him by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on February 14, 1989.

Sanjoy Roy, managing director of Teamworks Productions which is organising the Jaipur Literature Festival said, "A literary platform like the Jaipur festival provides a space for free speech in India's best democratic traditions.

"Salman Rushdie has attended several literary events and forums in India in recent years without incident. This includes his attending the Commonwealth Writers Prize awards in 2000, and the Jaipur Literature Festival in 2007.

"In plural societies such as ours, it is imperative that we continue to allow avenues for unfettered literary expression," said Roy.


Image: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh spokesperson Ram Madhav


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