Following protests against her plans to visit world heritage sites Ajanta and Ellora caves and other tourist spots in Aurangabad, Bangladesh author Taslima Nasrin was on Saturday stopped at the airport and sent to Mumbai. While AIMIM legislator Imtiyaz Jaleel, who led the protests, claimed that Taslima’s visit would have paralysed the city’s law and order situation, police said she “readily agreed” to go to Mumbai on learning about the protests. A police official said they were not aware of Taslima’s travel plan and learnt of it around 6 pm on Saturday after protesters gathered outside a five-star hotel where she was scheduled to stay. A group of protesters reached the airport and started shouting ‘Taslima, go back’.
The official said Taslima arrived at Aurangabad at 7.30 pm by an Air India Delhi-Mumbai flight via Aurangabad. The flight was in transit at Aurangabad for an hour and was scheduled to leave for Mumbai at 8.30pm. As the protests continued, police dispatched two officers who asked Taslima to stay inside the airport. A senior official said Taslima was apprised of the situation and given the option to continue her tour under security cover or go to Mumbai. She opted for travelling to Mumbai, the official claimed.
“As only a few flights operate from Aurangabad, we had to ask her to take the same flight in which she had come. We spoke to the pilot and officials from the Airport Authority of India to accommodate her in the flight. After Taslima agreed, she was asked to board the flight,” said the official. Jaleel, AIMIM legislator from Aurangabad central constituency, said the situation in the city has been tense after many illegal religious structures were pulled down last week. “Police personnel have been deployed in large numbers. If Taslima visited the city at such a time, a major law and order problem would have broken out. Therefore, I spoke to senior officials from police and the administration and asked them to stop Nasreen from entering the city,” he told The Indian Express.
“If she would had been allowed to reach her hotel, protesters would have greeted her with eggs and tomatoes. While we are all for freedom of speech and expression, she writes against the Prophet and Islam. Youths cannot stand her and as a responsible legislator, I ensured she is sent back.”