Jaipur: The Jaipur Literature Festival began on Friday with an impressive line-up of Indian and international authors. However, uncertainty prevailed over the visit of controversial author Salman Rushdie.
The Rajasthan police have been taking no chances and have tightened the security in and around Diggi Palace, the festival venue. In a first, there is CCTV monitoring of the festival and registration has been made mandatory.
Festival director William Dalrymple said, "The Rajasthan government, certainly the police department and the security agencies have worked incredibly hard to keep the venue safe."
Meanwhile, artists have been calling for solidarity for Booker Prize winner Rushdie who may attend the festival on January 23.
Speaking to CNN-IBN, Dalrymple said, "Rushdie has been invited to the festival and we very much hope that he is able to make it. We want him to come."
But it's not just about the Rushdie show or no-show. Like every year, the Jaipur Literature Festival can boast some huge names.
There's also the best-selling writer and guru Deepak Chopra, Michael Ondaatje of 'The English Patient' fame. Richard Dawkins - one of the foremost evolutionary biologists and author of the best-selling 'The Selfish Gene' as well as Ben Okri - author of 'The Famished Road'.
From the sub-continent - Mohammed Hanif, Fatima Bhutto, Girish Karnad, Kiran Nagarkar will be present.
This year estimates suggest 40,000 people could be attending. It remains to be seen how Diggi Palace, which hosts the annual jamboree, will cope up.