The release of Taslima Nasrins book Nirbasan (Exile) at the Kolkata Book Fair was cancelled on Wednesday following protests. However,Peoples Book Society,the publishers of the book,went ahead with the launch near its stall outside the official venue,earlier fixed by the Publishers and Booksellers Guild,the organisers of the fair.
Allegations and counter-allegations were levelled as the Guild and Kolkata Police passed the buck on each other,saying they did not deliberately stop the book launch. Guild secretary Tridib Chatterjee,however,accepted that they feared possibilities of communal disharmony and the safety of the visitors.
A group of Islamic activists spoke to me on Wednesday and asked me if Nasrin’s book was being released by the Guild. I said her publishers have organised a book release in a hall in the Milan Mela premises. They said the book launch could lead to communal disharmony, said Chatterjee.
While Nasrin refused to take calls,she was active on Twitter,expressing her discontent over Wednesday’s incident. Kader adeshe boi mela chole,kader onguli nirdeshe proshason chole? (The book fair is run under whose directions,who runs the administration?) she asked on Twitter pointing a finger at the government’s refusal to intervene and look into the matter.
The book talks about Taslimas life after she was deported from Kolkata in 2007. A chapter titled ‘Kothopokothon (Conversations)’ is dedicated to the exchange that Nasrin had with people who had asked her to leave the town.
Police,meanwhile,said: We took adequate measures and deputed extra police personnel at the spot. We also told the Guild about what we felt and it is true that there might have been a problem. The final decision was theirs of course.