Sangh Samachar

I left my heart in Kolkata — Taslima

Posted in islamic fundamentalism, religious fundamentalism by ravi on November 23, 2007

Taslima has once again been forced to go into hiding! However, the latest furor against her has a larger context as Diptosh Majumdar explains:

The burning issue of Nandigram was stoking the fires in Kolkata. The Muslims have been viewing explicit footage of how their community members had been at the receiving end in secular West Bengal’s Nandigram. Television channels and newspapers have been discussing gang-rape and other inhuman tales of atrocities perpetrated by the omnipotent CPI(M) cadre.

Nasreen may have been the trigger, the catalyst; but the fury has been building up after Nandigram. The Muslim sub-conscious has also not forgiven Kolkata Police for its alleged involvement in the mysterious death of Rizwanur Rahman, a young graphics designer with a bright future. The senior IPS officers had no business to intercede on behalf of an affluent Marwari family and get the couple separated.

As if to recompense for the Nandigram violence and buttress his secular credentials, Biman Bose suggested that Taslima should leave Kolkota if her stay creates a problem for peace. He also sought to blame Taslima’s presence in Kolkota on the Center. “I don’t want to speak elaborately on the role played by the Centre on Taslima Nasreen’s stay in West Bengal”, he added cryptically.

Hindustan Times quotes an unnamed Left Front leader admitting the role played by electoral concerns:

“Taslima’s presence has endangered not just common citizens. After Nandigram, Left parties run the risk of losing minority votes. Most Left Front leaders have realised that fundamentalist thoughts have made inroads into Muslim society, which had followed the Left’s secular ideology for decades,” said a senior Front leader. “But we cannot admit that in public.”

All India Forward Bloc leader Hafiz Ali Sairani also pinned the blame on Taslima!

“Our secular image is intact. But people should remember that while expressing personal views, one can’t hurt the feelings of millions. Two pages from Taslima’s novel Dwikhondito led to this crisis. It’s sad the anger of the people was directed at the state and not the Centre, who issued the visa to Taslima.”

Fellow FB leader Devrajan also suggested that Taslima should leave the country for the time being if her presence was creating a problem, but party general secretary Debabrata Biswas restored sanity albeit with a rider that Taslima understand that “her use of pen and tongue should not hurt sentiments of a section of people in the country”! The RSP came out strongly in support of Taslima, calling her forcible removal from Kolkota another black spot (an unfortunate, though common usage of black as a negative color) on the face of Left Front after Nandigram. Meanwhile, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta strongly disagreed with Bose, apologise[d] for what has happened, offerred her protection in Kolkota and called for granting her Indian citizenship if she so desired.

Perhaps stung by the flak from the Left, Bimen Bose has since retracted his comments, and sought to put the onus on the Center:

The state government does not have the authority to grant or cancel visa and only the Centre can do this and let the Union government take an appropriate decision on the issue.

The highly opinionated Sitaram Yechury also resorted to the Center-knows-best mantra:

The visa to a foreign citizen is given by the Central government, which also decides where one can stay in the country….No state government has any role in such matters.

To the best of my knowledge, foreign affairs is also the prerogative of the Central Government though the CPI(M) has never been shy (and rightly so) about asserting its opinions here. Having antagonized large segments of the Left, looks like the comrades from CPI(M) don’t have the stomach for another fight (even if this would mean succumbing to the dictates of Islamic fundamentalists)!

Meanwhile, Idris Ali, president of All India Minority Forum and one of the hoodlums protesting Taslima, has clarified (archive):

We have not mixed up issues as has been reported. We were not agitating against the violence in Nandigram, we were only protesting against the visa extension of Ms Taslima Nasreen as we strongly believe that she has no right to stay in this state.

Syed Md Murur Rahman Barkati, one of his co-conspirators and Imam of the Tippu Sultan mosque seemed unrepentant and asserted: What has happened is because she is being able to stay on in the city. Much like in Hyderabad earlier this year, when those in power are reluctant to take on the fundamentalists, the latter naturally take on a more strident tone. Idris Ali and Barkati are most likely beyond reason, but pressure must be brought to bear on the Left Front to not give in to fundamentalists. Now would also be a good time to demand the un-banning of Taslima’s books in West Bengal.

Meanwhile, Taslima, who has never made secret of her love for Kolkota, has said she has left my heart behind in Kolkata. The Bengali intelligentsia has come to her support, with Mahasweta Devi (among others) strongly criticizing the Left Front:

I saw on television that she was taken away from her residence to the airport by the police. It clearly hints at state government’s influence behind the move. Actually, it is the follow-up of the comment made by Left Front chairman Biman Bose.

Now is the time for a strong push toward pressuring the Indian government to grant citizenship to Taslima and ensure protection to her (and other apostates) who often end up incurring the wrath of thin-skinned fundamentalists. For now, I’ll end with a gem from Taslima:

I [described] the Quran, the Vedas, and the Bible and all such religious texts determining the lives of their followers as out of place and out of time. We crossed that social historical context in which these were written and therefore we should not be guided by their precepts; the question of revising [these texts] thoroughly or otherwise is irrelevant. We have to move beyond these ancient texts if we want to progress. In order to respond to our spiritual needs let humanism be our new faith.

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2 Responses

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  1. […] to the joint statement by Chomsky, Zinn, Ali et al, this statement further contextualizes the anti-Taslima protests and the Left Front’s […]

  2. […] to the joint statement by Chomsky, Zinn, Ali et al, this statement further contextualizes the anti-Taslima protests and the Left Front's […]


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