The cancellation of award-winning author Salman Rushdie's visit to the Jaipur Literature Festival on the inaugural day Jan 20 has sparked outrage on social media with many suspecting the government's hand behind it.
It has also fuelled speculation whether Rushdie will visit the festival at all after Muslim hardliners asked the government to bar him from coming.
"Salman Rushdie will attend the festival. His security remains a prime concern," Sanjoy Roy, the managing director of Teamworks Productions, which organises the festival, told the media. Roy added that Rushdie's visit had just been postponed to avoid the first day.
But fans and liberals expressed their anguish on social media. In a hard-hitting message about the Salman Rushdie saga on Twitter, well-known journalist and commentator Vir Sanghvi reacted by saying, "Don't take power away from the people and give it to the bullies".
Last year, Rushdie was in the eye of a storm at the aborted Harud festival in Kashmir after media reports said the organisers had invited the author of controversial books like "The Satanic Verses" and "Midnight's Children".
However, the Jaipur Literature Festival stands by its invitation this year.
Rahul Pandita, the author of "Hello, Bastar", described the tirade against Rushdie as a "shame, shame, shame!"
"This is the real face of the Congress party," Pandita said on social media while foreign correspondent Seema Sirohi felt that "the large Indian state was too weak to protect one man".
On a more philosophical note, Ramesh Srivats, columnist and founder of brand applications firm Ten Ten Ten, added on Twitter that, "As always in a battle between law and order, the order always wins".
Striking a note of balance and caution, IT professional Tariq Ahmed, a Delhi-based fan of Salman Rushdie, told IANS, "He should have been allowed to come. His impression about Islam may be wrong. He should be invited to a dialogue with Islamic scholars. He is being meted out the same treatment as M.F. Husain," Ahmed said.
Salil Tripathi, a journalist and Rushdie fan, wrote on Twitter, "Tomsk can't ban the Gita, but India can keep Rushdie out of Jaipur".
"Mera Bharat Mahaan," he tweeted with sarcasm.
Ashwini Singh called the entire drama the "a******ness of Indian politicians at full display."