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Will Rushdie visit Jaipur Fest? Organisers say YES

Last updated on: January 17, 2012 15:33 IST

Will Rushdie visit Jaipur Fest? Organisers say YES

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi

Author Salman Rushdie's visit to India to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival is clouded in uncertainty even as Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said his trip might lead to security problems.

While the organisers say they stand by their invitation to the Midnight's Children author, Gehlot has made it plain to Home Minister P Chidambaram that his visit is being resented by the local people.

Gehlot met Chidambaram in New Delhi on Tuesday and discussed this issue, among other things, telling the home minister that the people of Rajasthan "do not want" Rushdie to come and had made representations to the state government about their feelings.

"I don't have any official information about whether Rushdie is coming or not. There is no official communication to us... There is a reaction among the locals, they don't want Salman to come," Gehlot told media persons after the meeting.

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Additional Input: PTI


Image: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot


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Gehlot said his chief secretary was in touch with the organisers of the literature festival, a five-day event to be held from January 20 to 25.

 

"No state government will want a law and order situation. I have informed the Centre about the prevailing sentiments," Gehlot said.

 

The announcement of Rushdie's visit to the popular festival had invited the wrath of India's top Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, which appealed to the government to decline the author a visa as he had hurt sentiments of Muslims in the past.

 

Following this, Rushdie had taken to micro-blogging site Twitter to say that he did not require a visa to visit India.

Responding to questions here, Gehlot also added that Rushdie was a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and the government cannot prevent him from coming to India. Nor can it offer any advice to the organisers.

 

But, the sentiments of the people have to be kept in mind, Gehlot said in no uncertain terms.

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Image: Author Salman Rushdie


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"At the same time the festival is a very popular one and known across the world. The organisers too wouldn't want law and order situation which will spoil the festival," he said.

The festival organisers were ambiguous in a statement issued on Tuesday.

 

"Salman Rushdie will not be in India on January 20 due to a change in his schedule. The festival stands by its invitation to Mr Rushdie," festival producer Sanjoy K Roy said.

 

While the schedule at the JLF website has been altered with no references to Rushdie's sessions, the author is still listed among the list of speakers.

 

Mita Kapur, who initiated the Jaipur Literary Festival, said that Rushdie had visited India in 2007 and there were no problems then.

"He should come. I am sure everything will pass off smoothly and as far as law and order is concerned, the government of Rajasthan would be able to handle it should Rushdie finally show up in Jaipur," she said.

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Rushdie was earlier scheduled to speak on January 20, 21, and 22 in different sessions.

 

The author had earned the wrath of Muslims worldwide due to the alleged blasphemous content in his novel The Satanic Verses, which was published in 1988.

 

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.

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