Exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, whose one year residential permit expires on August 16, has been granted only a six month tourist visa by the Indian government, putting a big question mark on her future stay in Kolkata.
"I have just come to know that I have been granted a six month tourist visa. I am shocked and shattered because I have been denied a residential permit in India and reduced to the status of a tourist," said the author, whose permit expires on Wednesday.
"As a tourist I can be asked to leave any moment. My visa cannot be renewed in future too. A tourist visa can be given even for three days, while a residential permit can be granted for 10 years also," Nasreen said.
"I don't know what to say or what are the politics behind it. I have no idea. I only know that it is very bad news for me," said the 44-year-old writer, who has been the target of Islamic fundamentalists in Bangladesh for her comments on Islam.
She said she doesn't know whether she would be able to apply afresh for a residential permit, but would do so nonetheless. "I have set up a home here. Now everything is uncertain," said Nasreen, who lives in a plush apartment in Kolkata's Rawdon Street with period furniture, paintings and a pet cat too.
The West Bengal government had forwarded the controversial author's appeal to the central government to extend her resident permit so she could continue to stay in Kolkata. Earlier, Nasreen had been denied Indian citizenship.
The West Bengal government had banned her autobiographical book "Dwikhondito" (Split in Two), but it was lifted after she won a court battle over it.
Nasreen, who has been living in exile for 12 years, had moved to Sweden after she drew the wrath of fundamentalists in Bangladesh with her book "Lajja" (Shame) in 1993. The book recounted torture on Hindus in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. She had to leave Dhaka after a 'fatwa' was issued against her following the release of the book.
Of late, she has been living in Kolkata, a city she describes as closest to home. Here, too, she has been in the centre of many controversies and drew the wrath of Islamic clerics and fundamentalists for her outspokenness.