Litfest organisers snub govt,say Rushdie video address on

Raj govt warned organisers not to go ahead with video conference without prior permission.

Written by Express News Service | Jaipur | Published: January 23, 2012 3:37:20 pm

Jaipur Literature Festival organisers are going ahead with author Salman Rushdie’s video conference,though the Rajasthan govt has categorically said,the address cannot take place without its prior permission.

Festival organiser Sanjay Roy said Monday evening that the video conference would take place on the front lawns of the venue at 3:45 pm.

The subject of discussion would be the author’s celebrated novel Midnight’s Children,his other works and life,Roy said.

The controversy over the India-born novelist continued to dog the festival for the fourth day,four authors who read out passages from his banned book ‘Satanic Verses’ and three organisers were named in a complaint in a Jaipur court seeking FIRs and probe.

The four authors were also named in another complaint in an Ajmer court but organisers were not mentioned.

A senior Rajasthan government official said authorities were examining the video link issue,adding it would not allow a video address by the author without permission.

The official said no permission has so far been sought by organisers for the video link which has been planned for tomorrow afternoon on the fifth and last day of the festival.

Festival producer Sanjoy K Roy was ambivalent about Rushdie’s video link.

“As of now,according to what I know,it is happening. No official has spoken to us raising any objection,” he said.

The complaint before the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in Jaipur was filed by Abdul Latif in his capacity as secretary of the All India Milli Council. It named the four authors – Hari Kunzru,Amitava Kumar,Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi — as well as three organisers – Namita Gokhale,William Dalrymple and Sanjoy Roy.

The second complaint before Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate in Ajmer was lodged by Muzaffar Bharti,who represents a local group,in his personal capacity.

Additional Police Commissioner Biju George Joseph said the organisers have not sought any permission for video conferencing with Rushdie and nothing will be done without prior permission of the state government.

The four writers who had read out portions from Rushdie’s work had to opt out from the event after organisers distanced themselves from their actions.

With Rushdie’s video link being clouded in uncertainty,activist group Sahmat has invited him to Delhi.

“Sahmat is issuing an open invitation to Salman Rushdie to come to Delhi to deliver a lecture or participate in a discussion on literature at any time of his choosing,” Ram Rahman of the organisation said in a statement.

Rushdie had pulled out of the festival last week citing death threats. Yesterday,he slammed Rajasthan police for “inventing” a threat to his life to keep him away from the literature festival.

The state government,however,dismissed the charge saying the Intelligence Bureau had given inputs and they were not concocted.

A group of writers meanwhile have put together an online petition urging the government to reconsider the 23-year-old ban imposed on the ‘Satanic Verses’ for allegedly hurting sentitments of the Muslim community.

The petition addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram said the book has not incited violence anywhere and that others have used the novel to incite violence to suit their political ends.

While 340 people had signed the petition on paper yesterday,over 250 had signed it on the website.

Hari Kunzru,who left the festival and later the country,posted a sarcastic comment on microblogging site referring to the proposed videolink by Rushdie.

“So @salmanrushdie to address #jaipur #jlf via videoconf but only if no mention of SV. What then? fashion tips? Weather?” Kunzru wrote.

Meanwhile,Swami Agnivesh who visited the venue of the festival said some sort of probe should be initiated to investigate who gave the perception of threat to Rushdie.

“This kind of controversy is ridiculous and unbecoming of a democracy,” said Agnivesh,who also signed the petition.

With inputs from agencies

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