Salman Rushdie might not have been there in the flesh but his presence hung in the air, with speakers at different sessions on Saturday referring to him. At the session with Steven Pinker and AC Grayling both grazed the issue. Grayling rued Rushdie’s absence. “I’m sorry that Salman isn’t here,” he said. “We should all applaud the concept of free speech.”
Chetan Bhagat, without naming Rushdie condemned the 24-year ban on The Satanic Verses but expressed sympathy for outraged sensibilities. “Violence, banning, taking the law in your hands are wrong. but do you have the right to hurt people?” said Bhagat who writes freely.