JLF 2012: Writing fraternity divided over 'Satanic Verses' protest

The writing fraternity at Jaipur Literature Festival appears divided over actions of a group of authors who read from his banned book as a mark of protest.

hidden January 21, 2012 17:23:29 IST
JLF 2012: Writing fraternity divided over 'Satanic Verses' protest

Jaipur: They opposed any move to force Salman Rushdie to cancel his India visit, but the writing fraternity at Jaipur Literature Festival appears divided over actions of a group of authors who read from his banned book as a mark of protest.

Ever since Rushdie's visit was announced to the festival it has been an issue overshadowing other aspects of the literary gathering. The controversial writer continued to create ripples with four authors reading from his banned book Satanic Verses yesterday after he announced cancellation of his visit only to be repudiated by the festival organisers who said they did not give consent for such actions.

In fact, the festival issued a strong statement last night making it clear that it was authors who were responsible for their actions as they had gone ahead even after being stopped by the organisers.

JLF 2012 Writing fraternity divided over Satanic Verses protest

The writing fraternity at Jaipur Literature Festival appears divided over actions of a group of authors who read from his banned book as a mark of protest. Reuters

Author S Anand reacted strongly at a session against the organisers' actions.

"I support the stand taken by Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi. I have sympathy for Rusdhie. And I want to express my outrage over the organisers who have acted with pusillanimity," said Anand.

Others were less stringent and more ambivalent over the events, with most saying that the festival organisers were responsible for the entire event and could not have allowed violation of law from their platform.

"The organisers were quite right as they are responsible not only to the readers but also to other delegates and they have to take care of so many things. As for the writers, their's too was a democratic right and they excercised it," said playwright Girish Karnad.

Eminent Malayalam author K Satchidanandan said the events of the day set him thinking and even when he was all for free speech, he believed some kind of restraint was needed here to prevent stoking unnecessary controversy.

"This morning I received a text from my daughter saying you should also read something from Rushdie. I respect that feeling and I wouldn't mind taking responsibility for my action, but then it might be putting organisers in some kind of problematic situation," said the author.

"There are other ways of protesting too. In fact, it was coming up in every setion in one form or other... there could have been some restraint, also from the organisers who came up with a statement dissociating themselves from the authors," Satchidanandan said.

Others said the authors knew what they were doing and would take responsibility for it.

Amish Tripathi said the matter was one between the organisers and the authors who read the text, while Sidharth Gigoo said the authors knew exactly what they were doing as well as the consequences of their act.

Writer Chetan Bahagat urged people "not to make heroes out of people who are banned".

"Let's not make heroes out of those people who are banned," the author said.

Maintaining that violence and taking law into ones hands is not acceptable, he said "everyone has the right to condemn things which they find offending.

"If you have written something that hurts people, people have the right to condemn it. Of course taking law in your hands is not right," Bhagat added.

PTI

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