Five years gone, Taslima still waiting to return to Kolkata

Five years after Taslima Nasreen was forced to leave Kolkata following protests by fundamentalists, the exiled controversial Bangladeshi author is still waiting to return to her adopted home.

"I am waiting for the day the West Bengal government allows me to return to Kolkata. I am a Bengali, I can stay either in West Bengal or Bangladesh and not anywhere else. But unfortunately, I am not allowed to stay in either of the places," Nasreen said.from Delhi.

Stating that the West Bengal government has not responded to her requests for returning to Kolkata, which she calls her "adopted home", the feminist writer, who has penned a seven- part autobiography, said, "No other place on earth suits me".

Five years ago, on November 22, 2007, Nasreen was turfed out of Kolkata following violent protests over renewal of her visa.

Since then she has been put up at an undisclosed location in Delhi and advised against making any public appearances.

"I feel very lonely here and I hardly have any friends. How long will I be able to survive like this?" she wondered.

To interact with like-minded people, she uses Twitter, where she interacts regularly with her more than 45,000 followers.

Nasreen had to flee Bangladesh in 1994 following a huge controversy over a novel 'Lajja' (Shame) for hurting religious sentiments.

After taking refuge in Europe for a decade, she came to Kolkata in 2004.

A group of intellectuals and activists have also rallied behind her.

Magsaysay-winning author Mahasweta Devi said, "Being an author, why can't Taslima have the independence to write? It is the readers who decide what they want to read. She should be allowed to return".

Noted educationist Sunando Sanyal and human rights activist Sujato Bhadra criticised Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for remaining silent on the issue.

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