The Indian Herald

The Indian Herald

January 24, 2012

Four authors who read Satanic Verses shunted from Jaipur Literary Festival, 'courageous' writers flee venue to avoid arrest

The four participants at the Jaipur Literary Festival who read excerpts from Salman Rushdie's banned Satanic Verse were kicked out of the festival and asked to leave the venue.

Outraged over the sudden act of reading the book during the festival, the authors--Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar and two other little-known writers Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi, the organisers asked the four persons to leave the place. They fled Jaipur soon after.

The humiliating exit came as the act to read excerpts was considered provocation. Interestingly, the Centre hadn't stopped Rushdie from visiting the country. No group in India, either Muslim or other party, had issued any threat to him.

Rushdie claimed that he faced threat. However, Rajasthan police categorically denied that they had any such input. But after Rushdie didn't arrive, self-styled flag bearers of free speech tried to read passages of Rushdie's book, prompting organisers to stop them.

The act invited criticism from different quarters. Muslim groups didn't seem happy over the authors getting kicked out of the country, and demanded action against them for breaking the law and reading the banned book to provoke others. 

Shuted out from Jaipur literary festival the 'courageous authors Amitava Kumar Hari Kunzru Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi fearing arrest hurriedly fled Jaipur and escaped, an act in sharp contrast from their 'bold' stand for freedom of speech and censorship.

After they left Jaipur, complaints were made to police against them for provocation. A section of media felt it as disgraceful that Rushdie didn't arrive her but the fact remains that it was what Taslima Nareen put, 'his cowardice'. 

TIH Bureau 

January 21, 2012

Jaipur Literary Festival takes 'Satanic turn', Salman Rushdie skips event

Controversy was lead news on TV channels 
The Jaipur Literary Festival took a 'satanic turn' as certain English writers read out from Salman Rushdie's banned book to express their disappointment over the writer's failure to turn up at the event.

The festival organisers tried to stop these writers. However, these writers claimed that it was their protest against the so-called attack on freedom of expression in the country.

Noted writer Amitava Kumar, Kashmiri Pandit author Hari Kunzru and a little-known author Ruchir Joshi read out passages from Rushdie's book Satanic Verses. However, the protest didn't go down well with everyone and also invited criticism.

Interestingly, the writers claimed that there was threat to Rushdie's life though no organisation had issued any threat against Rushdie, who has been living in Britain after Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against his blasphemous book.

Some Muslim groups had organised demonstrations and protests to demand that Indian government did not allow Rushdie to step into the country. The Indian government however said that Rushdie didn't need visa because of his Person of Indian Origin (PIO) status.

On social networking websites especially twitter, people had contrasting views. While some lauded the unique protest, others said that it was childish because Rushdie had shown cowardly behaviour and didn't come to India unlike Taslima Nareen who faced threats but still lived in India for years.

Channels claimed there was threat to Rushdie though it was said to be on the basis of certain 'intelligence inputs' or Rushdie's imaginary fears. In the past also he has attended the festival in Rajasthan that had passed off peacefully.

Interestingly, the issue of self-styled progressive writers and vocal middle-class silence for not showing similar solidarity to MF Husain who had painted Bharat Mata and faced threats from right-wing Hindu groups was raised.

Users mentioned that authors and intellectuals hadn't shown the guts and courage to support Husain. Except Amitava Kumar, no other writer of repute got into the controversy. A poet Jeet Thayil and a lesser known writer Samit Basu also read passages from the novel.

There were sharp arguments among users on Facebook and twitter. While there were supporters for the move who justified the act as it was not outlawed to read the book, others termed it as a drama. In process the literary festival was the loser as focus shifted on Rushdie despite his absence, instead of the current writing scenario.

TIH Bureau

January 16, 2012

Police cane-charge Muslims at Dargah Shah Mardan in Delhi, dozens hurt

DCP Chhaya Sharma amid protesters
Dozens of Shia Muslims were injured when police resorted to cane-charge during the traditional Chehallum procession at Dargah Shah Mardan in South Delhi on Sunday.

The trouble began over reports that mourners who were taking part in the Chehallum observance were forcing open a gate that has been closed on a court order.

The police had a face-off the mourners. Tempers soared and the policemen lathi-charged the assembly. As report of the clash spread, tension gripped the South Delhi area. Muslim leaders and senior officials rushed to the spot. Local residents said that police used excessive force.

They alleged that policemen also fired in air apart from using tear gas shells though the situation didn't warrant such action. Policemen said that there was stone pelting from the Shia community and this led to the violence. But the situation was brought under control.

A senior Deputy Commissioner ranked officer who reached the Jor Bagh dargah, assured the agitators that those who had been detained would be released. Police accepted that crowd was lathi-charged but denied charges of firing.

TIH Bureau

January 14, 2012

Twelve killed in stampede at Shia shrine on Chehallum in Madhya Pradesh

Twelve persons including four women were killed during a stampede at the Husain Tekri shrine in Jaora (Ratlam) in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday.

The incident occurred when thousands of Muslims had gathered to observe Chehallum, which falls on the 40th day of Yaum-e-Ashura, the martyrdom of Imam Husain.

This year just one gate was opened to the place where the ritual of walking of fire takes place in Jaora. The rush caused the stampede and 12 persons died in the incident. Tens of thousands of people including pilgrims had gathered at Husain Tekri.

The injured were taken to hospital. Husain Tekri Sharif is a famous shrine in Central India that is frequented by Shia and Sunni Muslims apart from  Hindus. On Muharram and Chahallum, the faithful walk on fire to express their sorrow over the battle of Karbala.

Even after the mishap, nearly 30,000 people were present, to resume the ritual. Despite appeals to disperse, people remained at the shrine, waiting for their turn. Meanwhile, local dailies reported that police officials suspected the deaths might have been due to cold and asphyxiation also.

In the zeal to rush towards the 'rauza', many people got trampled and crushed. People from other countries had also arrived here for the occasion. The deaths came to light at around 1:30 am at night. The identities of all the persons who died are yet to be known.

Home Minister Umashankar Gupta and DGP SK Rout rushed to Ratlam after the report of stampede. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has also announced financial compensation for the kin of those who died in the mishap at Jaora. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered.

TIH Bureau

January 11, 2012

Ram Sene activists had hoisted Pakistani flag to create Hindu-Muslim tension

Pramod Muthalik: Villain, once again!
The Pakistani flag was hoisted by right-wing extremist group Sri Ram Sene with the aim to put blame on local Muslims and create tension.

This sensational disclosure was made after Karnataka police arrested six youths who were activists of Ram Sene, the militant group, which has been involved in several other cases of crimes in the past in the South Indian state.

Police said that the main accused, Rakesh Math, and his accomplices, wanted to foment communal trouble in Bijapur. The flag was hoisted near tehsildar office in Sindagi. The Ram Sene (also known as Ram Sena) leaders have however said that its members were not involved in the incident.

The district leadership said that all those arrested in the incident owed allegiance to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Sene chief Pramod Muthalik also said that his workers were not involved in the incident. Other sources suggest that a BJP leader was involved in the incident to stir religious passions.

In the past also, pro-Hindutva elements have tried to mislead investigators either by leaving evidence near a madarsa or using fake beards and skullcaps, so as to pin blame on Muslims. Congress has demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident and has sought ban on Sri Ram Sene.

TIH Bureau

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