Taslima pines for Kolkata, but Bengal unmoved
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Taslima pines for Kolkata, but Bengal unmoved

Central interlocutors are working overtime to find a way out for the controversial B'deshi writer who is stuck in Delhi. Srinand Jha and Arindam Sarkar report.

india Updated: Nov 26, 2007 03:52 IST

Taslima Nasreen’s insistence on returning to Kolkata and the West Bengal government’s reluctance to have her back in the city have led to a deadlock, sources in the government said on Sunday.

Interlocutors of the central government were working overtime to find a way out for the controversial Bangladeshi writer who has been holed up in Rajasthan House in Delhi since Friday night.

Intelligence sources said Taslima is being persuaded to shift out temporarily to some safe house somewhere else in the country. But the author, who was moved out of her ‘second home’ Kolkata last week following violence over her stay, is reluctant.

<b1>A glimmer of hope appeared on Sunday afternoon, when television channels aired reports that West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had welcomed her back. An excited Taslima told HT on phone: “I just saw it on a television channel. Is it true that the CM has made such a statement?”

“I just cannot express my feelings. I am really grateful to the CM... Now let me find out how soon I can get back to my flat in Kolkata.”

But then came the bad news. The chief minister had made no such statement. The reports were wrong. And Taslima broke down.

Talking about life in the past four days, Taslima, who was taken out of Jaipur a day after she reached there as the state government feared unrest over her presence, said she felt being treated like a football, being kicked around.

She said she left her Rawdon Street flat in Kolkata on Thursday with only her laptop and a flight ticket to Jaipur. “I am at Rajasthan House. My food and lodging is being taken care of by a party and my security is in the hands of the Centre. But you cannot imagine how I am spending my days here. It is terrible,” Taslima said.

Those who called on Taslima on Sunday were two functionaries of the All India Progressive Women’s Association and two Delhi University professors of the political science department. She spent time watching the India-Pakistan cricket match and had fish and rice for lunch.

She appeared relaxed but a little disturbed about her uncertain future, said a senior Rajasthan government official who accompanied her from Jaipur.

Speaking on the unrest over her, Taslima, who had to flee Bangladesh in 1994 following fatwas against her by fundamentalists, said Muslim outfits putting pressure on the Left Front government in Bengal and campaigning against her were selling lies. She insisted that ever since she started staying in Kolkata, she has not written anything that would hurt Muslim sentiments.

“These fundamentalists are quoting from my old writings that appeared in Dwikhondito in 2003. The book was banned and subsequently the high court also lifted the ban. So the whole campaign against me of committing a blasphemy is baseless,” Taslima said.

She said Islam is not her subject, nor is Islam bashing her passion. “I have got nothing to do with Islam. My focus areas are women’s rights, humanism and feminism,” Taslima said.

First Published: Nov 26, 2007 00:41 IST