Mumbai cops say no plot, Owaisi seeks action against authors
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As the Jaipur Police sought video footage of some writers reportedly reading portions of the banned The Satanic Verses at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday, their Mumbai counterparts on Saturday said they were not aware of any plot to kill Salman Rushdie as claimed by him.
Rushdie called off his visit to the festival on Friday, saying on Twitter that he had been told that the Mumbai mafia had issued weapons to two hitmen to eliminate him. A day later, Mumbai Police officers said Rushdie's claim was "inconsistent".
No formal probe will be conducted as the writer has not lodged an official complaint detailing threat to his life, they added.
"For now there is nothing. A friend of his had allegedly warned him. But without the name of the group or anything specific, it is not practical to allege a murder plot," said a top IPS officer. "The Special Branch did some checks but did not find anything on the threat either."
"We will make arrangements only if he visits Mumbai. We do our research and play by the ear so our focus starts only if he is planning any visits to this city. We can't comment on any other information that he might have got," said Commissioner of Police Arup Patnaik.
Hyderabad MP and president of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Asaduddin Owaisi, meanwhile, demanded that the police lodge criminal cases against the writers who read from The Satanic Verses at the festival on Friday to protest the circumstances of Rushdie's withdrawal. "It is an act of deliberate provocation to read from a banned book. Their intention was to vitiate the atmosphere, hurt the sentiments of Muslims and cause public disorder," Owaisi said Saturday.
He blamed the organisers for not preventing the writers and for inviting Rushdie who is known for his anti-Islam books. "This literature festival is not for promoting liberal views, it is aimed at Islam-bashing and hurting the sentiments of Muslims. The organisers cannot wash their hands off, they too should be booked," he said.