Friday 26 August 2016
facebook.com/Outlookindia twitter.com/outlookindia digimag.outlookindia.com instagram.com/outlookindia youtube.com/user/OutlookMagazine

Zero Hour Intolerance

Rushdie hounded again, gives Calcutta Lit Fest a miss
Apoorva Salkade

It appears Salman Rushdie’s presence is a problem only at lit fests in India. Nobody had objections when he was in the TV studios and newspaper offices in Delhi promoting the film version of Midnight’s Children. But several Muslim groups gathered at the Calcutta airport the day he was to land to address a session at the Calcutta Lit Fest. Rushdie called off his visit at the last minute citing “security concerns”.

“Since I was hounded out of Calcutta I have not been allowed to step foot in the city again,” says writer Taslima Nasreen whose book Lajja too was banned for hurting Muslim sentiments. “Rushdie being stopped from attending the Calcutta meet brings back painful memories and I think it has given us another chance, another reminder, that we are treading on dangerous ground by allowing ourselves to be dictated to by irrational and regressive elements of society. Fundamentalists taking such a stand is understandable but when governments, especially a democracy like India, gives in to their demands—whether out of fear or for appeasing votebanks or other political  expediencies—it only weakens the democratic fabric of the nation,” she says.

There was no formal ban or a directive but Calcutta’s intellectuals suspect he was dissuaded from coming. “The Bombay police claim that it was Rushdie’s own decision to cancel the trip, but obviously he was advised against it,” Kaushik Sen, Calcutta-based thespian and activist, told Outlook. Others say letting some fringe elements dictate terms to the state will only embolden them more. Some have suggested mass-scale protests against these elements, as it happened in Delhi in support of the rape victim.

“We are living in an atmosphere of fear...people are afraid to speak out,” says a professor at Calcutta University who doesn’t want to be named. “So even a shocking incident like this, just like the many others before, is accepted by us tamely. The only way out is perhaps people taking to the street to protest,” he says. Well, that seems unlikely to happen in today’s Calcutta, especially on the Rushdie issue.

Also See: 'A Cultural Emergency'

READ MORE IN:
PLACES: Kolkata
SECTION: NationalBooks
OUTLOOK: 11 February, 2013
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, please Log in or Register
  • Daily Mail
THE LATEST ISSUE
CLICK IMAGE FOR CONTENTS
OUTLOOK ON TWITTER
POLLS

Finally, political parties came together to pass the Goods and Services Tax in the Rajya Sabha. The much-vaunted tax reform is said to have turned India into one common market. It is said that the GST will replace more than 15 state and federal taxes. So will GST lead to #AchcheDin?

POLL STARTED ON: Aug 04, 2016
Quiz
Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro is hosting the 31st Olympic Games from August 5 to 21. This is the first Olympics being held in South America and is going on even as a majority Brazilians are unhappy with their rulers. Here’s a quiz on some random Olympic facts and related trivia.
QUIZ STARTED ON: Aug 11, 2016
Advertisement