Controversies aside, Jaipur Literature Festival begins today

Jaipur Literature Festival

Unfazed by objections from some quarters over the participation of certain authors, the annual Jaipur Literature Festival begins today with event co-director William Dalrymple saying few fringe groups were trying to hog the limelight.

"JLF is the same as always, serious literature and then some fun. It is just some fringe groups who are trying to hog the limelight," said the author of "The Last Mughal".

The festival that hogged much attention last year due to Salman Rushdie's planned visit - that ultimately did not materialise - is once again facing the ire of Muslim as well as right-wing Hindu groups.

Following recent tension between India and Pakistan over cross-border violations, many right-wing organisations have opposed the participation of Pakistani authors in the festival.

Authors from Pakistan including Mohammed Hanif, Jamil Ahmad, Fahmida Riaz and journalist Sharman Ubaid Chinoy are scheduled to make an appearance at the literary extravaganza.

Ahmad and Hanif have also been shortlisted for the 2013 DSC South Asian Literature Prize, the winner of which will be announced at the festival.

JLF is also facing opposition from Muslim organisations over the participation of authors who had read out passages from Rushdie's banned "Satanic Verses" at the event last year.

Jeet Thayil, Ruchir Joshi, Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar had read out passages from "Satanic Verses" following the cancellation Rushdie's visit to the festival last year.

However, yesterday some Muslim groups softened their stand over the visit of Thayil saying they have no objection provided the act is not repeated.

Upbeat about the development, Dalrymple said people have realised that the festival should not be disrupted.

"We heard today that some Muslim organisations have decided not to get in the way of the festival. Even BJP and RSS have toned down. I think people have realized that it is a great asset for Jaipur and shouldn't be disrupted," he said on the sidelines of the friendly cricket match at KL Saini ground.

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