Bengal govt keeps Salman Rushdie away from Kolkata events

Salman Rushdie

With author Salman Rushdie getting "disinvited" by the state and film director Deepa Mehta failing to make it, the proposed discussion among the main cast and crew of Midnight's Children (film adaptation) at a literary meet at the Kolkata International Book Fair on Wednesday evening became a one-on-one with actor Rahul Bose.

Asked about their absence, Bose said, "It is only about 1 per cent of the population who did it for their vested interest. It will not stop me in my fight against cultural intolerance."

Earlier it was planned that Rushdie, Mehta and Bose were to attend two events: a press meet in a city hotel and an interaction "Midnight Magic" at the literary meet. At the book fair, author Amitav Ghosh said, "It is unfortunate that he can not move freely."

Sources in the book fair said the government did not want Rushdie to attend the literary meet fearing a backlash. Md Nurur Rahman Barkati, Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid, said, "I had called the CM to tell her that Rushdie should not be allowed to come to Bengal. It would give rise to a law and order situation. She assured me it would be taken care of," he said.

Home secretary Basudev Banerjee said the government came to know of Rushdie's visit on Tuesday evening. "It was not pre-scheduled. We got in touch with the Mumbai police who later told us that he was not coming," he said.

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