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Jan 24, 2013 at 11:00am IST

Jaipur Literature Festival begins, Pakistan authors to participate despite protests

Jaipur: Amidst tight security arrangements, the Literature Festival began in Jaipur on Thursday. After the controversies of 2012, Pakistani authors are likely to participate in the festival this year after the organisers assured that there was no threat to them. However, one of the four authors - Jeet Thayil - who read out excerpts from Salman Rushdie's controversial book 'Satanic Verses' in 2012 to show support to him is already facing protest with few Muslim groups issuing warning against his participation.

The stage is set for the annual gathering of authors in Jaipur. A pre-festival friendly cricket match has promised a cheerful start to the event but with the protests witnessed in 2012, security concerns seem to take centrestage this year as well. "We'll ensure that there is no disruption of any kind and everything goes as scheduled," said Jaipur Police Commissioner BL Soni.

Few Muslim groups have issued warnings against allowing Jeet Thayil, one of the four authors who had read out of an except from Rushdie's controversial book 'Satanic Verses' as a mark of support. The BJP's youth wing is also protesting against the participation of Pakistani authors including Mohd Hanif, Jamil Ahmad, Nadeem Aslam, Fahmida Riaz, MA Farooqi at the festival following the killing of two Indian soldiers along the Line of Control. But support for these authors has already started pouring in. "It will be a slap on our faces if they are not allowed to come," says author Tarun Tejpal.

A three-tier security system is in place with a 200 string deployment of security personnel. Celebrities like the Dalai Lama and Rahul Dravid will also be attending the festival. Organisers say the participation of Pakistani authors for now is on track. "We stand by our invitation to the authors," said Festival Director Namita Gokhale.

But after 2012's example of Rushdie having to keep away from the festival, the element of uncertainty cannot be ruled out.