March 19, 2008

Taslima Nasreen decides to quit India

Taslima Nasreen, the controversial Bangladeshi author living in exile in India has had enough in that country. She was first driven out of Kolkata in September 2007 because of a movement by Islamic extremists and communist sympathizers demanding expulsion of Taslima from India. The Intelligence Bureau kept her in a 'safe house' within a National Security Guards complex in Delhi.

But this recluse had taken toll on her. India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee assured Nasreen a "shelter" in India on conditions and Taslima apparently had to agree to a compromise formula. On November 30, 2007 Taslima agreed to remove three pages from her book Dwikhondito (Split up into two). The book has been criticized by Muslims as "anti-Islamic". (BBC and wikipedia)

On 20 January 2008 she wrote a poem which was published in The Statesman of Calcutta:
Was a poet ever kept in house arrest?
May be she has been a subject of politicking
True she caused clashes once in a while
May be an arson, too.
But no, a poet was never taken to safe custody.
This India, this civilization, this 21st century
They all had welcomed the poet
Ignoring its childish religionism, its merciless politics.
But today, the poet languishes in house arrest.
She has done no offense.
On 11 March 2008, Taslima Nasreen wrote in Mukto-mona, an internet activism group:
Where am I? I am certain no one will believe me if I say I have no answer to this apparently straightforward question, but the truth is I just do not know.

What crime have I committed that I have to spend my life hidden away, relegated to the shadows? For what crimes am I being punished by this society, this land? I wrote of my beliefs and my convictions. I used words, not violence, to express my ideas. I did not take recourse to pelting stones or bloodshed to make my point. Yet, I am considered a criminal. I am being persecuted because it was felt that the right of others to express their opinions was more legitimate than mine.

I know I have not been condemned by the masses. If their opinion had been sought, I am certain the majority would have wanted me to stay on in Bengal. But when has a democracy reflected the voice of the masses? A democracy is run by those who hold the reins of power, who do exactly what they think fit.
And finally she decides to quit India. In an email to IANS she writes:
I used to call this the torture chamber. I gradually came to realise that it was the chamber of death instead. I was not even allowed to stay in hospital for long though the doctors felt it was necessary in order to stabilise my blood pressure.

Even though they constantly pressured me mentally to leave the country, I refused to budge. I was determined I would not leave this country. When they saw it was pointless trying to destroy my mind, they attempted to destroy my body. In this they succeeded by ruining my health, which leaves me with no other alternative but to leave this country.
(Image courtesy: Wikipedia)

Update I: Taslima arrived in Europe, reportedly in Sweden.


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