The BJP and the RSS Monday threatened “not to allow” seven Pakistani authors to event. “Looking at the present Indo-Pak relations, it is unacceptable to allow Pakistani writers to be here as guests. As of now we are politely saying that their names should be dropped from the list of invitees. If that is not done, we will make sure they are not allowed to enter Rajasthan. If they come, they will meet the fate of the two theatre groups, who sent back last week,” Suman Sharma, BJP state vice-president told The Indian Express.
The Pakistani writers invited for the festival are Mohammed Hanif, Jamil Ahmad, Fahmida Riaz, Pakistani-Canadian M A Farooqi, British-Pakistani Nadeem Aslam, journalist Sharmeen Ubaid Chinoy, who won an Academy award for her documentary Saving Face last year, and Ameena Saiyid, managing director of Oxford University Press in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Muslim organisations have opposed the inclusion of Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi, in the festival. They, along with Amitava Kumar and Hari Kunzru had read out “controversial excerpts” from Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses at the fest last year.
On Sunday, at the national conference on ‘Azmat-E-Namoos-E-Rasool’ (respect and honour the Prophet Mohammad) attended by 20,000 people, a resolution vowed that if the writers attend the festival, the community will agitate against it. Muzaffar Bharti who had filed an FIR against the writers said, “The organisers have invited two of them. Their actions had hurt the sentiments of Muslims and we will not tolerate their participation. We are not against the literature fest. Just like Akbaruddin Owaisi was arrested for his hate speech, similar treatment should be meted out to these writers.”
He said six court cases are pending against the writers and they are slated to appear before a court in Ajmer on February 3.
Mujahid Naqvi, co-convenor of the national conference, said the community will protest if the organisers invite Taslima Nasreen this year. “If this happens we will agitate again. Last year we had protested against the invitation sent out to Salman Rushdie,” he said. The organisers clarified that no invitation has been sent to Taslima Nasreen.
Meanwhile, Sanjoy K Roy, producer of the lit fest, said the organisers will not ask anyone invited to drop out. “All the invitations sent out by us continue to stand as they were. We will not ask anyone to drop out,” he said.
On additional security cover for the event, he said, “The state government is aware of the developments and they will do the needful. We do not feel the need to ask for extra security.”