Artistes, writers and rights activists of Kolkata marched in a rally in Kolkata on Saturday, demanding the return of controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen to the city and extension of her visa.
Magsaysay award winner Mahasweta Devi, painter-sculptor Subhaprasanna, theatre personalities Bibhas Chakraborty, Shaonli Mitra, Kaushik Sen and human rights activist Sujato Bhadro walked in the procession along with several other dignitaries.
"We have decided to send a letter to the prime minister, demanding the return of Taslima to Kolkata and forward it to the external affairs ministry. The draft has been ready and we will send it as early as possible," Sen told IANS.
"We had organised the rally to voice our concern over shunting out of Taslima from Kolkata. A section of anti-socials and few fanatics had demanded Taslima's exit from the city in November. It was not a mass movement," Chakraborty said.
The rally started from the Academy of Fine Arts and wounded its way to Esplanade crossing.
"We came to know Taslima has been virtually kept under house arrest. She has been told that the West Bengal government is not willing to take her back. She has been advised to go to any other foreign country," he said.
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Saturday said Taslima Nasreen has not been kept under house arrest and she can stay in India as long as she wants.
"Taslima is our guest and she can stay in the country as long as she wants. She has not been kept under house arrest as alleged by her," Mukherjee told reporters after attending a function at Calcutta University here.
"As a guest she should not do anything that would hurt the sentiments of the people. I have already made a statement in Parliament on Taslima and conveyed our decision to her," he added.
The writer was shifted to Jaipur from Kolkata on November 22 and then to New Delhi under heavy security after violence in Kolkata by a section of the city's Muslim community, who are demanding her ouster from India.