Jaipur Literature Fest: Ensure religious sentiment is not hurt, say cops

The police on Tuesday asked the organisers of Jaipur Literature Festival to "ensure that no one speaks about anything that might hurt the sentiments of any community". The police wrote to the organisers after BJP's youth wing and Muslim organisations threatened to disrupt the event following invitations sent out to seven Pakistani authors and some writers who had read out sections from Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses last year.

Commissioner of Police, Jaipur, BL Soni, told The Indian Express that security cover at the venue has been beefed up to ensure that no untoward incident takes place. "We have deployed a Superintendent of Police rank official who will oversee the protection of the venue. That apart, two to three specialised units have also been posted at the venue. While we are providing adequate security, we have also written to the organisers to be mindful of not hurting the sentiments of any community. We have asked them to communicate this to their speakers. "Of course, everyone has a right to freedom of expression, but one also cannot hurt the sentiments of any community," he said.

A day after the youth wing of the BJP, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, submitted a memorandum to the police threatening to protest if any Pakistani author attends the event, Muslim organisations from across the state formed an umbrella body on Wednesday and submitted a memorandum to the police, state government and organisers.

The Namoos-E-Rasool Foundation, in its memorandum, stated that none of the four authors Jeet Thayil, Ruchir Joshi, Amitava Kumar and Hari Kunzru who had read out sections from Satanic Verses last year should be allowed to attend the event this year. It maintained that these authors had hurt the sentiments of Muslims and that they are slated to appear before a lower court in Ajmer on February 3. Muzaffar Bharati, one of the group's members, said, "Representatives from various Muslim organisations handed out memoranda to police, state government and organisers. We hope our sentiments will not be hurt again."

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