Jaipur: Jaipur literature festival, which is set of kick off this week, has been marred by controversy with a group of Islamic clerics protesting the presence of authors who read from Salman Rushdie's banned book 'The Satanic Verses' in the 2012 edition of the festival. The clerics have said they don't want any of the four authors to take part in the annual festival this time.
However, the writers and the festival organisers seem like they cannot be deterred. In 2012, the threat of protests had led to the cancellation of one of the star attractions of the festival, Salman Rushdie.
"I would just like to clarify that I don't think this is from a Muslim group. I suspect this is just a group of people who have taken the opportunity to get the sort of media attention that they tend to get in a festival like this," said Sanjoy Roy, convenor of the Jaipur Literature Fest.
Though, only one of the four writers, who read from 'The Satanic Verses' in 2012, Jeet Thayil is taking part in the festival that has been held annually since 2006. The Booker Prize shortlisted poet and novelist said he does not want to comment on the protests, but confirmed he will visit Jaipur as scheduled.
Another writer, the Kolkata-based Ruchir Joshi said, "(I am) not going to Jaipur this time, but if I had been, I would have proceeded regardless. Clearly this is a fringe group looking to get publicity."
There are also reports that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) want to ensure that none of the Pakistani writers and filmmakers who have been invited to the festival, participate. However, the festival organisers say they have heard nothing about the reports, and will stand firm on their invitations.
"There is no harm in them giving an opinion. I think there is huge harm in letting that opinion becoming a controversy," Roy said. The festival is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors and the police have said they will make sure security is tight.