The UPA government at the center is in a fix. It appears that it itself dose not know with the controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen. The world famous writer had long been forced to leave her motherland as she has offended the Islamic fundamentalists there by her allegedly anti Islamic writings. There after she took refuge in India and made Kolkata her second home. The place suited her because of the bengoli culture and liberal outlook regarding religion. Taslima hope to carry on her literary activities “peacefully” in this tolerant, democratic and secular society. Little did she know then, that even in the pre-dominantly liberal society of these so called “cultural capital” of India, there were fundamentalists group, which could be as intolerant and as brutal as their counterparts across the border.
Till sometime ago, her stay in Kolkata had been peaceful. Although from the very beginning some Islamic fundamentalist in our own country were far from pleased with her stay in India. Voices against her stay in this country were occasionally raised by these groups. But of late protests against her stay in India have become louder and violent. Protests and rallies have been organized in different parts of our country.
The situation has taken a most ugly turn when in a literary conference in Hydrabad the Bangladeshi writer was abused and even man handled by some people. The most surprising and shameful aspect of the incident was that one of the attackers of Taslima was non other than a legislature of the state itself! What is more shocking is that the so called secular government of the state turned a blind eye to the incident and never even bothered to show cause the erring legislature, let alone punish him!
Even then Taslima was happy with her exiled life in India, in Kolkata she found her self in the middest of broad and open minded literary people and had regular interaction with them. Besides, she enjoyed freedom of speech and movement in the city. Then came that faithful day when several groups of Islamic fundamentalists poured out in the city streets. They very cleverly took advantage of the rallies taken out against the government policies in Nandigram. These fundamentalists mixed up with the Nandigram rallyists and ran amok and engaged themselves in unprecedented vandalism. The CPM led government in west Bengal for the first time in several decades of its rule, witnessed the uncontrollable mob fury of the minority fundamentalists in the state. The government was clearly scared. The chairmen of the left front Mr. Biman Basu rushed with the statement that Taslima should leave Kolkata without any delay, as it was due to her the peace of the city was disturbed! The rebel writer was taken to Jaipur but from there she was forced to go to Delhi for “security reasons”. In Delhi she was frisked to an unknown destination and put up in a house the address of which has been kept a closely guarded secret. All this has obviously been done for the safety of the writer.
The writer on her part is far from happy with the government “help”. She terms it as virtual “house arrest”. She can neither go out of the house nor can she meet her friends. In between, external affairs minister Pranab Mukerjee’s statements regarding Taslima’s stay in India have been very disappointing. He has passed his judgment that Taslima should desist from writing things, which hurt others, sentiments and that if she has to stay in India, she will have to stay in Delhi and not in Kolkata.
Clearly the government is trying to create situation and conditions, which would force the Bangladeshi writer to leave India on her own. But will that bring any good name to our country, which takes pride in providing every possible facility to its guests? In our country the guest is supposed to be like a god – “atithi devo bhabha”. So far the behavior and attitude of the corridor of power is concerned, it is the same from west Bengal to New Delhi. Be it the CPM led state government in west Bengal or the congress led UPA government at the center both are either finding themselves quite helpless before the fundamentalists forces of the country, or, they are ready to sacrifice all the liberal and democratic ideologies at the alter of politics of votes for power.
What ever be the reasons for the governments inaction against the fundamentalists forces, Mr Pranab Mukerjee and his government along with the allies must realize that if Taslima Nasreen is forced to leave India or, if she is harmed in anyway during her stay in India, the nation will earn a very bad name internationally. Manmohan Singh’s government inability to sign the indo-American nuclear deal till now has already projected India as a country whose commitments and assurances cannot be relied upon. Now throwing Taslima out of India or failure to protect her in India from the people who are after her blood, may please the fundamentalists but at the same time any such development would let the rest of the world know that India, which is aspiring to be one of the super powers of the world in near future, is actually a country which is very weak from within and is being governed by a bunch of very weak people who can not even provide protection to a lady in distress.
Author: Subhash Dey