JLF over, not the controversy around Taslima Nasrin

Jaipur, Jan 25 (IANS) It has been two days since the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) concluded but Taslima Nasrin’s surprise session continues to make waves on the social media. Nasrin took to Twitter and lashed out at the organisers for “banning her” from future editions while the organisers said such reports are “not true.”

Around 25-30 persons staged a protest outside Diggi Palace, saying that Nasrin’s writings denigrate Islam and that the organisers should not have invited her.

The protesters, drawn mainly from the Rajasthan Muslim Forum, the Jammat-e-Islami and the Muslim Personal Law Board, described writers like Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasrin as “disputed personalities” and demanded they should not be invited again.

Late on Monday evening, Festival producer Sanjoy Roy said in a statement: “They expressed their anger… I heard them out. Explained we supported minorities in every way. Underscored that we are a platform for all points of view. Agreed that we should consider their request not to reinvite them (Taslima Nasrin and Salman Rushdie).”

This led to speculation on the social media that the popular literary event will not be inviting Nasrin again.

The controversial writer also lashed out at the organisers in a series of tweets.

“Misogynist Mullahs ban me,corrupt governments ban me, now most progressive secular liberal #JLF ban me? Unbelievable!

“If u once bow down to fanatics,u hv to continue doing it. U gave them strength by bowing down in 2012.They forced u to bow down again in 2017.

“Wonderful! A bunch of misogynist bigots & imbecile blockhead will decide who should participate at Jaipur Literature Festival & who should not,” Nasrin wrote in a series of tweets that have gone viral on the internet.

The organisers stepped in to defuse the situation. A tweet from the official Twitter handle of the event said: “Reports of us ‘banning’ @taslimanasreen from future editions of the festival are not true. No statement to this effect has been made.”

On Wednesday morning, Roy tweeted: ” @PTI_News an erroneous statement saying jlf has banned taslima has been issued by pti. We have not said this. @taslimanasreen.”

In another tweet, quoting what the organisers said, Nasrin wrote: “Why did @PTI_News publish false news that #jlf has banned me? So good to hear #jlf believes in freedom of expression.”

Festival insiders told IANS that Sanjoy Roy met with the protesters and assured them that their demand will be considered.

“It was done to control the situation and does not mean that we will never invite her again. JLF continues to be an open platform for all kinds of voices,” said an insider.

Nasrin had appeared on the concluding day of the festival in an impromptu session, not disclosed by the organisers earlier.

The session was themed around her latest memoir “Exile”, a cumulative chronicle of her days in Kolkata and the circumstances under which she was, in her own words, “hurriedly shifted, first to Jaipur and then to Delhi, confined to an obscure safe houses, and faced incessant pressure from senior officials and politicians to leave India” and is replete with dark imageries and repeated provocations.