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Rushdie's address at Jaipur LitFest cancelled

The video address by "The Satanic Verses" author Salman Rushdie at the DSC Jaipur Literary Festival was called off Tuesday as some of the dozens of radicals gathered outside the venue threatened trouble and even bloodshed if the video link went ahead.

"In view of the resentment simmering in the city against Rushdie's (proposed) address, we have told the organisers that they cannot allow the writer to speak via video," Jaipur's Superintendent of Police Vijendra Jhala told media persons here.

Earlier in the day, nearly 30 angry representatives of various Islamic organisations tried to enter the venue of the festival in protest against the video address by Rushdie, author of the banned book "The Satanic Verses".

 
Salman Rushdie/AFP 

The protesters led by All India Milli Council leader, Paiker Farukh, a lawyer, who alleged that "the festival was trying to portray author Salman Rushdie as a hero".

"We have every right to protest in a democratic manner and if the Muslim population of Jaipur comes out in protest, you cannot prevent us. You cannot take us for a ride... we are not fools," Farukh told the media outside the venue at Diggi Palace.

The organisations had filed a petition at the court of an executive magistrate in Jaipur seeking a directive against Rushdie's address following which the court had summoned four organisers of the festival. But the organisers failed to turn up, a representative of the Muslim delegation said.

Police were summoned to placate the protesters. The commissioner of police reassured the protesters that their interests would be taken into account.

"We don't know about the fate of Rushdie's video address," a member of the core committee of the organisers then said.

Rushdie had called off his visit to Jaipur citing threats to his life from "paid assassins". But later he accused Rajasthan Police of hatching a plot about hitmen to keep him away from the festival where he was expected to be the star attraction. Some Muslim groups had also protested his proposed visit. But then the festival organisers said he would address the festival through a video link.

 

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