The Salman Rushdie row refuses to blow over,with the writer today accusing the Rajasthan Police of cooking up the threat to keep him away from the Jaipur Literature Festival. The police denied the charge,insisting they had credible information of the threat.
Rushdie had attributed his decision to cancel a visit to the litfest to reports of plans to target him. Quoting a newspaper article,the writer tweeted today: Rajasthan police invented plot to keep away Rushdie. Ive investigated,& believe that I was indeed lied to. I am outraged and very angry.
In response to a question about who ordered such a plot,Rushdie tweeted: Dont know who gave orders. And yes I guess the same police who want to arrest Hari (Kunzru),Amitava (Kumar),Jeet (Thayil) and Ruchir (Joshi). Disgusting.
The four writers had read out an article on Rushdie on Friday at the Jaipur litfest,which contained passages from The Satanic Verses. A police complaint was filed against them on the matter and they have now opted out of the festival. The organisers,who had stopped them from completing the readings,refuted charges that they were asked to leave.
In a statement late tonight,the Rajasthan government said the Intelligence Bureau had shared information on threats to Rushdies life with the organisers of the litfest. A confirmed information… was shared with the organisers of the festival. Such inputs had started to come even before the beginning of the event, the government said.
Denying they had communicated with Rushdie in any manner,Rajasthan Director General of Police (DGP) H C Meena told The Indian Express that no information was exchanged between the state police and the writer over the festival. Till date we have not communicated in any way telephone,fax or email with Salman Rushdie. So I do not understand his statement, Meena said.
The festival organisers,however,said they were shown an intelligence file about the threat to Rushdie a day before the fest began and the same had been communicated to Rushdie.
A senior festival member stated,It is unfortunate that Salman Rushdie could not come and we understand how he feels. But the security of all the authors and those who attend the festival is paramount.
At the festival today,one of the organisers,Namita Gokhale,said it was wrong to blame them. What is most hurtful is that the festival has over 265 authors and writers who are being sidelined due to this …the police and the state government have been cooperating with us… we have the responsibility to ensure the safety of those who are attending the festival, said Gokhale.
Incidentally,Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday stated that the state government had no problem with Rushdies visit. We had begun preparations for Salman Rushdie long ago and these security precautions are still in place. When there are intelligence inputs and advisories from the central government,we have to take them seriously and take appropriate steps, Gehlot said. With PTI