Jaipur: A mystery
literary session on the Jan 24 roster of the Jaipur Literature
Festival called "Midnight's Child", without naming the
participants, kept fuelling speculation that controversial writer
Salman Rushdie could descend on the pink city even as organisers
Thursday said he would not be there on the first two days of the
Jan 20-24 festival.
"Our stand on Salman Rushdie continues to be the same. He will not
attend the festival for the first two days...beyond which we are
not sure of his schedule," Sanjoy Roy, the managing director of
Teamwork Production, the organisers of the Jaipur festival, told
the press here.
Roy said the festival has not rescinded the invitation to the
author of "The Satanic Verses". Roy and his teammates, writer
Namita Gokhale and Nand Bhardwaj, met representatives of several
minority organisations and heard their views.
"We also presented our views," Roy said, adding that the festival
was a platform for freedom of expression - "to say, write and
paint". He refused to elaborate on the arguments put forth by the
Roy clarified that "the festival has not received any request from
the government to stop Salman Rushdie from coming to India".
"The festival has 208 authors and
150 performers... Salman Rushdie is a non-story that has been made
into a story," Roy said.
The festival has a glittering line-up of writers and celebrities
like television host Oprah Winfrey and writers Michael Ondaatje,
Ben Okri and playwright Tom Stoppard.
However, fans refused to give up hope on Rushdie's visit.
"There is a session listed on the
last day of the festival, Midnights's Child, which gives no name.
Who knows... he might come to the delight of his admirers here,"
Raj Gupta, a Jaipur-based student of English, told IANS.
Rushdie's proposed visit to the festival came under cloud after
several Islamic groups demanded that he should not be allowed to
come to India for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of the
community in his book "The Satanic Verses" - published in 1988.
The book was banned in 1989 and a fatwa was issued against the
author by Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran.
The clamour to stop his visit forced a rescheduling of Rushdie's
visit and his arrival to Jaipur Jan 20 was postponed. Rushdie's
name was also taken off the festival schedule.
Abul Qasim Nomani, vice chancellor of Darul Uloom Deoband, the
country's most influential Islamic seminary, said not allowing
Rushdie in India was a "welcome" step.
"He should apologise to the entire Muslim ummah (society) for his
blasphemous remarks against Islam and the Prophet. Only then we
can allow him to travel to India," Nomani had told IANS from
The media Thursday quoted intelligence bureau as saying, "Salman
Rushdie could be a victim of a homegrown terror attack in case he
decides to take part in the Jaipur Literary Festival".