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There was all round condemnation for the Trinamool Congress government's alleged role in not allowing Booker Prize winning author Salman Rushdie to visit Kolkata to take part in a literary meet on "security grounds".
Magsaysay award winning author Mahasweta Devi, once considered close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on Thursday slammed her government for failing to provide security to Rushdie. "I condemn it. The state government should have welcomed Rushdie and should have made all arrangements for his stay in the city. But what happened had actually demeaned the city's cultural heritage and Kolkata's prestige in the world forum," Mahasweta told PTI.
The Booker Prize winner who was scheduled to attend an event in the Kolkata Literary Meet (KLM) to promote Deepa Mehta's film Midnight's Children, based on his novel, had to cancel his trip at the last minute.
Veteran actor and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee Soumitra Chatterjee also condemned the incident. "It is really a sad incident. I condemn it. I feel that nobody should interfere in freedom of expression," Chatterjee told PTI.
Later, taking part in a discussion at Kolkata Literary Meet, lyricist Javed Akhter lamented on the incident. "Let's call a spade a spade. It is done to appease the Muslims. But politicians appease every fundamentalist because they are afraid of them," he said. "The state always plays to the right wing. Anywhere a similar incident happens, the conservative wing's voice is paid heed to. If the liberal or progressive section does so much 'hungama', no one will listen to it."
On Twitter: invite row
Filmmaker Deepa Mehta on Thursday tweeted that organisers of the literary meet had invited Salman Rushdie to the event. "(Rushdie) was going to be a surprise guest... Lit meet paid 4 (for) his tkt (Mumbai-Kolkata flight ticket)(sic)," tweeted the Indo-Canadian director. Endorsing Mehta's view, Rushdie re-tweeted the message. The organisers, however, have denied inviting Rushdie and Mehta to the literary meet.