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Taslima article: 2 dead,media offices attacked

Late on Tuesday night,about 15 unidentified men attacked the offices of Kannada daily Kannada Prabha and an eveninger with petrol bombs in Mangalore,injuring a person and leaving computers and office furniture smashed....

Written by Johnson TA | Bangalore |
March 3, 2010 3:16:27 am

Late on Tuesday night,about 15 unidentified men attacked the offices of Kannada daily Kannada Prabha and an eveninger with petrol bombs in Mangalore,injuring a person and leaving computers and office furniture smashed. The latest attacks came even as the Karnataka Police registered cases against Kannada Prabha and Urdu daily Siasat for “hurting religious sentiments” after communal violence erupted in parts of the state over the publication of a translation of an article purportedly written by exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

Two people were killed in Shimoga district of Karnataka on Monday in police firing and violence during protests over the article attributed to Nasreen. Violence was also reported from the nearby Hassan district.

At the root of the protests and violence was a full-page Sunday supplement feature published in Kannada Prabha,entitled Purdah hai Purdah. The article was described as a translation of a 2007 Nasreen piece published in sections of the media with the title ‘Let’s think again about the burqa’. On Monday,Siasat,whose Karnataka edition is managed by Congress leader Roshan Baig,published a report alleging that the Kannada daily had published derogatory remarks against Muslims in the Sunday piece.

However,Nasreen,living in a secret location since her return to India last month,termed the article a “distorted story” and its publication “atrocious”. “In any of my writings I have never mentioned that Prophet Muhammad was against burqa,” she said in a statement.

“The incident that occurred in Karnataka on Monday shocked me. I learned that it was provoked by an article written by me that appeared in a Karnataka newspaper. But I have never written any article for any Karnataka newspaper in my life,” she said. “I suspect that it is a deliberate attempt to malign me and to misuse my writings to create disturbance in society. I wish peace will prevail.”

While Kannada Prabha did not attribute any reason for the publication of the piece,it is widely believed that it came in the backdrop of an ongoing Supreme Court case on the question of whether election identity cards will violate the right of Muslim women to practise their religion. However,a senior member of the Kannada Prabha team here said,“We wanted to have a good article that creates a good healthy discussion. There was no other intention. This has taken a new political turn. All the protests are politically motivated.” He added: “We had carried the report on the Supreme Court case on the voter identity issue prominently on the front page. The Sunday feature is not connected in any way to that report.”

As for Siasat,Baig said his paper only carried a news item on the Kannada paper’s coverage. “It’s a 2007 article by Taslima Nasreen,which has been up on some hardline Hindu websites and was carried very prominently by Kannada Prabha on Sunday,with a provocative headline from an old Hindi song ‘Purdah hai Purdah’,and pictures of women in burqas. My paper just carried a news item on that coverage which was printed on Monday,” Baig said.

“My mother had passed away on Sunday,so I was not in the office or overseeing things that day. Otherwise,I may have ensured that this was not carried. Anyway,what we carried was a brief report,” he said.

According to Baig,his newspaper cannot be connected to the violence in Shimoga. “It had nothing to do with our coverage as our paper reaches Shimoga only by about 12 noon or 1 pm. Urdu is also not read that much by Muslims in that part of the state. They are mostly Kannada-speaking. There is no way our paper could have contributed to the outrage,” he said.

The Shimoga district where much of the violence occurred on Monday is the hometown of Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa,who told the Karnataka Assembly that “selfish elements” were behind the violence,and new state BJP president K S Eshwarappa. On Tuesday,normalcy was restored in the troubled parts of the state under strong police presence and the imposition of curfew.

(with PTI)

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