Kolkata: The literary and film community on February 1 came out in support of controversial author Salman Rushdie and blamed the West Bengal government for cancellation of his visit to the metropolis. "If a world-renowned writer is unable to come to Kolkata, then it is extremely unfortunate," Magsaysay award-winning author Mahasweta Devi said.
"Kolkata has always remained an open city for all. It has welcomed and helped writers from all over the world. That way it has a different type of depth. But what is happening now is very strange and I don't find any logic in it," she told reportesr. The state government should have given Rushdie adequate security and arrangements for his stay in the city, she added.
Renowned filmmaker Mrinal Sen said, "This is injustice to Rushdie. When I hear things like this it gets on to my nerves." Veteran actor and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee Soumitra Chatterjee also condemned the incident saying it is "sad and unfortunate".
When contacted, exiled Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, who was bundled out of Kolkata in 2007 following violent protests over renewal of her visa, said the people had been silent then and "it has now become a trend in Kolkata to protest against writers."
"The real reason is the hypocrisy of the intellectuals of Kolkata who were silent when I was thrown out of the city. Now these maulvis have been strengthened and encouraged to do anything at their will." In a democracy and secular country, there should be freedom of speech and expression and also of movement of authors.
"India is not like Pakistan or Bangladesh where such freedom is violated. So we need to condemn this and protest against it."
Rushdie alleged that he was forced to cancel his trip to Kolkata after being threatened that he would be bundled out on the first flight by the police on orders from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He made his allegations in a statement before flying out of the country on February 1.