Author Salman Rushdie on Tuesday said that "Indian politicians are in bed with extremist groups", reacting angrily to the cancellation of his visit to India and video address for the Jaipur Literature Festival.
"There is a lot of personal disappointment, but overwhelmingly for India, which has been committed to secularism and liberty. Politicians are in bed with those groups for electoral reasons. This decline in public standards in the liberty of ordinary citizens to hear different points of view makes me saddest," Rushdie said in an interview with TV news channel NDTV.
Blaming the upcoming assembly elections for the controversy, he said that he has visited India, including Jaipur, many times in last 8-9 years but is "at a loss to understand why it has happened now."
"While I've been cast as enemy of Islam, which is ludicrous, the real enemies of Islam are maulvis, extremists, because they reiterate the image of Islam as intolerant," he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the writer said that the authorities had been "awful" by cancelling his video link for the Jaipur Literature Festival. The author posted his reaction on Twitter.
"#JLF Videolink cancellation: awful. Just did long interview w @BDUTT for NDTV. I feel a lot better now I've had my say. I hope it airs soon," Rushdie tweeted.
"Threat of violence by Muslim groups stifled free speech today. In a true democracy all get to speak, not just the ones making threats," he further posted on the social networking site.
Rushdie's video conference at the Jaipur Literature Festival was called off finally after much flip flop over it in Jaipur. A dejected and hurt Sanjoy Roy, the festival organiser, said it's unfortunate that once again we are being bullied and have to step down, before leaving the stage in tears.
Rushdie had called off his visit to Jaipur citing threats to his life from "paid assassins". But later he accused Rajasthan Police of hatching a plot about hitmen to keep him away from the festival where he was expected to be the star attraction. Some Muslim groups had also protested his proposed visit. But then the festival organisers said he would address the festival through a video link.
Videos: Muslims protest against Rushdie's video conference | Not bothered about legal issue: Jaipur Lit fest organizer