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Indian Government May Deport Taslima Nasrin

February 15, 2008

Update! 02/14/2008

 

Statement by Official Spokesperson on extension of visa of Ms. Taslima Nasreen 
The Government of India have decided to extend the visa of Ms. Taslima Nasreen. Throughout its history, India has a tradition of offering hospitality to those who seek it. It has also afforded protection to those who have come as our guests. Ms. Taslima Nasreen is our guest and, in keeping with our traditions, we have offered her the same privileges.

Public Statement by the Forum For The Protection of Free Speech and Expression

At a time when India is projecting itself on the world’s stage as a modern democracy, while it hosts international literary festivals and book fairs, the Government of India, most mainstream political parties and their armed squads are mounting a concerted assault on peoples’ right to Free Speech.

Taslima It is a matter of abiding shame that even as some of the world’s best-known writers were attending the Jaipur literary festival and prestigious publishers were doing business at the World Book fair in Delhi, the exiled Bengali writer Taslima Nasrin was (and is) being held in custody by the Government of India in an undisclosed location somewhere in or around Delhi in conditions that amount to house arrest. Contrary to misleading press reports stating that her visa has been extended, her visa expires on the 18th of February, after which she is liable to be deported or remain confined as an illegal alien.

Taslima Nasrin is only one in a long list of journalists, writers, scholars and artists who have been persecuted, banned, imprisoned, forced into exile or had their work desecrated in this country. At different points of time, different governments have either directly or indirectly resorted to these measures in order to fan the flames of religious, regional and ethnic obscurantism to gain popularity and expand their ‘vote-banks’. Every day the threat to Free Speech and Expression increases.

Taslima Nasrin’s troubles in India began immediately after the Nandigram uprising when the people of Nandigram, mostly Dalits and Muslims, rose to resist the West Bengal Government’s attempt to takeover their land, and tens of thousands of people marched in Calcutta to protest the government’s actions. Within days a little known group claiming to speak for the Muslim community asked for a ban on Dwikhondito and demanded that Taslima Nasrin be deported. The CPI(M)-led government of West Bengal immediately caved in to the demand, informed her that it could not offer her security, and lost no time in deporting her from West Bengal against her will. The Congress-led UPA Government has condoned this act by holding her in custody in Delhi and refusing, thus far, to extend her visa and relieve her of her public humiliation.

M.F. Husain Inevitably, hoping to make political capital out of the situation, the BJP is publicly shedding crocodile tears over Taslima Nasrin, going to the extent of offering her asylum in Gujarat. It seems to expect people to forget that the BJP, VHP and RSS cadres have been at the forefront of harassing, persecuting, threatening and vandalizing newspaper offices, television studios, galleries, cinema halls, filmmakers, artists and writers. Or that they have forced M.F. Husain, one of India’s best-known painters, into exile.

This situation is not front page news. Life is good for those who ignore the spreading encroachment of government or religious suppression.

When Nasreen was told that since she chose to be a rebel and hence should pay the price of her outspokenness, she said “I didn’t choose to be a rebel. I only chose to speak the truth. I was targeted because the extremists needed a lone person to target.”

The author came to India after she was threatened by religious extremists in Bangladesh offended by her writings. She has been living in an undisclosed location in the Indian capital since November after she was forced to leave Kolkata following violent protests by Muslim groups.

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5 Comments
  1. March 5, 2008 5:30 pm

    Sanjana, I was inspired by Taslima’s story. I must admire her courage in the face of such adversity. A society that censors creative criticism is doomed to become robots like North Korea. This is has a negative effect on a population’s ability to self sustain and interact with the world around them.

  2. Sanjana permalink
    March 3, 2008 6:29 am

    Well written article, as I am a frequent visitor of SiliconIndia, I would like you to contribute your articles in its publishing section as your article is really nice and all the members will definitely like to read it. http://www.siliconindia.com/register.php?id=T49I1Fh5

  3. February 15, 2008 7:57 pm

    Rationalists International are reporting that Ms. Nasrin is getting her visa after all.

    http://www.rationalistinternational.net/

  4. February 15, 2008 7:39 pm

    So true Aniche, this demonstrates the creeping encroachment of acceptable suppression. These examples of insanity are not even footnotes in the big scheme of western media. Why interrupt the dreamworld western governments live in. The reality of doing business with governments for economic gain is always the bottom line. The condition of the people inside those countries is of no consequence. Journalists and artist that may think ‘out of the box’ are major irritants that must be swept under the rug. Raise no questions and you can live a happy life … take this pill to be happy, take that pill to quit giving a shit … do the hokey pokey and thats what its all about!

  5. February 15, 2008 7:29 am

    I love the fact that we live in a country where murderers and rapists get away but a writer and a painter are hunted by the entire country. Cheers!

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