Jaipur: The maha kumbh of literature, the 8th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival kicked off to a smooth start despite warnings of protests against Pakistani writers following the recent killings of soldiers at the Line of Control. Except for Mohammed Hanif, who has skipped the festival for personal reasons, the other Pakistani authors kept their date with Jaipur.
"I agree with the sentiment behind protest warnings and respect it, but we are here to make friends and ease tensions." Pakistani writer MA Farooqi said. "I got to know of it only when I came here. I think it's sad and platforms like this can help ease tensions," Pakistani author Jamil Ahmad said.
This year, the organisers have stood firmly behind the writers. Police ensured adequate security, given that there were 1,20,000 footfalls in 2012. One of the main draws on Day 1, the Dalai Lama, addressed a packed session on peace and tolerance. "This should be a century of dialogue, dialogue is the only way to deal with conflict," the Dalai Lama said.
Veteran actress Sharmila Tagore who was also present there paid a tribute to eminent writer Sunil Gangopadhyay and read out excerpts from his work in Bengali and English during a special session called 'Remembering Sunil Da'.
The Jaipur Literature Festival is off to a calm start, promising more literature and less noise in the next three days but with the Pakistani authors now attending, the organisers and the police are taking no chances.