Jaipur Lit fest: Muslim bodies against Thayil, Joshi; RSS no to 7 Pak invitees

Threats from Muslim organisations, the BJP and the RSS seems to be shrouding the prospects of the five-day Jaipur Literature Festival set to begin on Thursday.

The BJP and the RSS Monday threatened "not to allow" seven Pakistani authors to event. "Looking at the present Indo-Pak relations, it is unacceptable to allow Pakistani writers to be here as guests. As of now we are politely saying that their names should be dropped from the list of invitees. If that is not done, we will make sure they are not allowed to enter Rajasthan. If they come, they will meet the fate of the two theatre groups, who sent back last week," Suman Sharma, BJP state vice-president told The Indian Express.

The Pakistani writers invited for the festival are Mohammed Hanif, Jamil Ahmad, Fahmida Riaz, Pakistani-Canadian M A Farooqi, British-Pakistani Nadeem Aslam, journalist Sharmeen Ubaid Chinoy, who won an Academy award for her documentary Saving Face last year, and Ameena Saiyid, managing director of Oxford University Press in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Muslim organisations have opposed the inclusion of Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi, in the festival. They, along with Amitava Kumar and Hari Kunzru had read out "controversial excerpts" from Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses at the fest last year.

On Sunday, at the national conference on 'Azmat-E-Namoos-E-Rasool' (respect and honour the Prophet Mohammad) attended by 20,000 people, a resolution vowed that if the writers attend the festival, the community will agitate against it. Muzaffar Bharti who had filed an FIR against the writers said, "The organisers have invited two of them. Their actions had hurt the sentiments of Muslims and we will not tolerate their participation. We are not against the literature fest. Just like Akbaruddin Owaisi was arrested for his hate speech, similar treatment should be meted out to these writers."

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