Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen today said "some bad incidents" did not amount to India being called "intolerant" and those indulging in them should be "educated" to be more inclusive.
The author condemned the recent mob lynching in Jharkhand where two cattle traders were killed and hanged, the Dadri lynching incident last year and the killing of rationalists Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and M M Kalburgi.
"It is not intolerance but a heinous crime to kill people for eating beef or for having different ideas. But, because of some bad incidents, I don't want to call 1.24 billion people of India intolerant. Some people are intolerant everywhere," she said.
Nasreen was speaking at an event organised by CII Young India here where former IPS officer Kiran Bedi and transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi were among the other speakers on the panel.
The 53-year-old Bangladeshi writer, who has been living in self-exile in India after incurring wrath of fundamentalists back home over a novel written by her in 1994, said that she did not want to call India intolerant because "Indian laws and constitution are tolerant."
"Many people in Indian society like any other society are intolerant. It is a misogynistic patriarchal society where most men are intolerant towards women, upper caste people are intolerant against lower caste people, rich people are intolerant against poor people, heterosexual people are intolerant against homosexual and transgender people," she said.
According to her, it was "not unusual" to have some intolerant people in a country.
"It is not very unusual that some people are intolerant but those people should be educated. We should teach them not be intolerant. And there are good laws and they can be punished," she said.
The writer said while media is critical of the Hindu fundamentalists, oppression by their Muslim counterparts often goes unreported.
"Intellectuals, journalists and writers always criticise Hindu fundamentalists but they do not criticise Muslim fundamentalists. We talk about Dadri but we don't talk about Malda," she said.
Narrating her ordeal with Muslim fanatics which compelled her to relocate to Delhi from West Bengal, she said, "Some Muslim fundamentalists set a price on my head and no one was arrested for this crime. I was thrown out of West Bengal in 2007 because the politicians there wanted to appease Muslim fanatics for votes."
The author said that Muslim minorities in India have much more freedom to live their lives compared to their Hindu and Christian counterparts in Bangladesh and Pakistan.
"Pakistan has the blasphemy law which is often used against Christians, and Hindus in my country are tortured for being Hindus and many of them are leaving Bangladesh for India but how many Muslims here leave for other Muslim countries?" she asked.
"I decided to live here because I love India. I don't feel like an outsider. I speak one of the Indian languages and also I know the name of the flowers in India," she said.