Salman Rushdie's impending visit to India has kicked up a storm. While the opinion is split between the supporters and detractors, Indian authors are divided on the issue.
Chetan Bhagat posted on his Twitter page, "I don't like people offending anyone's religion. If they have done so by mistake, they could and should consider apologizing. However, I hope we r a mature enough country that we don't prevent visitors. Even if they've erred, isn't forgiveness part of every religion?" (sic).
Rushdie , who has a British passport but lives mainly in New York, is scheduled to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival later this month, but if some clerics have their way, he might not be able to step into the pink city. The country's top Islamic seminary, Darul Uloom, Deoband, has demanded that the author not be allowed to enter India.
Seemingly unperturbed by the hullabaloo around his visit, Rushdie tweeted, "My Indian visit, for the record, I don't need a visa."
The author has courted controversy with his inflammatory remarks and novel, The Satanic Verses, which was banned by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1988 amid violent protests in several countries, including India. In fact, a fatwa was issued against the author by Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for blasphemy in 1989.
Ashwin Sanghi, author of Chankaya's Chant questions the authority, "So after we ban Salman Rushdie's visit, what should we do next? Should we ban all Siberians from coming to India because one of their courts wanted to outlaw the Bhagvad Gita? Should we rejoice in the fact that we exiled M F Hussain permanently from India? Should we banish Taslima Nasrin to Bangladesh? When exactly did India become a theocracy? Did our founding fathers who enshrined 'freedom of speech and expression' as a fundamental right in our constitution think that it was acceptable to chisel away at any of these fundamental rights?"
Advaita Kala, author of best-selling novel, Almost Single also echoed similar sentiments, "Who is anyone to forgive him? What he wrote was his artistic expression and no artists should be made to justify his creative impulses. It is too bad that people don't like his work, but I'm really looking forward to hearing him at the Jaipur Literature Festival. He should get the visa."
He is supposed to discuss the nuances of English with writer Ira Pande on the topic "Inglish, Amlish, Hinglish: The chutnification of English" according to the schedule posted by the festival organisers.