Thursday, August 06, 2009

Tasleema Nasreen back in India (most likely for a short time again)

Taslima Nasreen does not find it safe in India, nor does the Government really want her to be here in India. Every time she comes to India, the Government is stuck as to what to do with her. Given the feelings of repulsion and hatred she inspires in a section of the Muslim community and the vociferous protests that are held, the Congress Government is certainly not going to give the impression that she is a honored state guest; or even worse, that the Government supports or condones her views. Instead, in the past, various spokespersons of the Government and the Congress party have sought to convey the impression that they are only doing something that they don't like; whether it is to give her a visa or provide her security.
In this feeling, except for the BJP (which supports her actions, but would not like to encourage the equivalent of Taslima for the Hindu community, MF Hussain), all other parties are the same way. They would not like to do anything which could be meant to believe that they are supporting the author in any way.
At the same time, it is unwise for the Government to actually reveal its desires, and prevent her from coming to India for renewal of her visa. India has a tradition of being a liberal country, and the concept of not supporting a lady who is being threatened by fundamentalists would expose the Government to severe and trenchant criticism, and severe indictment by the media and large sections of the middle class, a battle that the Congress Party would rather not fight. Consider what happened when the last time she came here (link to article):
Taslima had left India on March 18 last year for Sweden after she was kept in a safe house in the national capital for more than four months. Taslima, who had not been allowed to see any visitors during the period, had described her confinement as living in "a chamber of death". She had come in February earlier this year but was asked to leave immediately after visa was granted to her till August 17 because of the general elections in the country.
Recipient of various awards, Taslima was shifted from her Kolkata residence after violent protests marred parts of the metropolis over her controversial book "Dwihondito" (divided into two). Taslima was packed off from Kolkata and shifted to Jaipur. The Rajasthan government decided to shift her to Delhi after some Muslim organisations threatened state-wide protests against her stay there. Despite the writer's wish to return to Kolkata, the Left Front government in West Bengal did not pay any heed to her request.

Let us see whether things are going to change. I am however very skeptical that there will be any change in the ground situation, and she will be encouraged to leave the country and go back to Europe. The interesting point is, in her case, there are no protests in Parliament against the treatment being meted out to her, no support by feminist organizations, and so on.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:39 AM