The fatwa for The Satanic Verses has failed to silence writer Salman Rushdie.
He has unequivocally condemned the Indian army’s role in Kashmir. “You cannot escape the fact that the army has behaved absolutely dreadfully,” he said. Insurgency, he said, began in 1989, but the army’s atrocities in Kashmir had begun well before that.
Rushdie, in India for the Jaipur Literature Festival, spoke at length about Shalimar the Clown, his 2005 release set against the backdrop of Kashmir.
He argued the army could not escape blame by saying it was only doing what it had been ordered to do. “That argument went out with Nuremberg. You can no longer say you didn’t know what you were doing,” said Rushdie, responding to a question by NDTV’s Barkha Dutt, who was moderating the session.
Earlier, Rushdie disclosed that his next book is a historical novel that makes connections between Mughal India and the Italian Renaissance.
There was little sympathy for Shilpa Shetty though. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” said Rushdie, adding that “it’s clear that some very unpleasant things were said about her” and that he wished Shetty would win. Jane Goody, who was voted out of the Big Brother house, was a “foul-mouthed, ignorant girl”, he said.
He added that Indians were not immune to racism, but that in a nation of a billion he would have been surprised if “prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness” had not existed.