Kolkata, Feb 1: The seventh part of controversial author Taslima Nasreen's autobiography,'Nirbasan' (Exile), was today released outside its scheduled venue at the Kolkata Book Fair as a mark of protest, after the organisers refused to go ahead with it following ‘protests by fundamentalists'.
“Kolkata Book Fair committee canceled my book release program today at Kolkata Book Fair. Why? Some religious fanatics don't want it to happen,” tweeted Taslima who was not present.
Sudhangshu De, Secretary of the Publishers and Booksellers' Guild, the organisers of the book fair told PTI that the publisher's booking at the auditorium in the fair grounds was cancelled “fearing a law and order problem during the book release.”
Earlier, the Guild asked the publisher not to release the book after protests were reported from fundamentalists. Taslima's publisher, People's Book Society (PBS), thereafter released the autobiography outside the auditorium as a mark of protest.
“Kolkata,a city of progressive! A book release even w/o my presence not possible! All poltcial parties, all orgs afraid of fanatics! But how long,” the Bangladeshi author said on Twitter.
“They banned me, a writer, a person. They do not need to know the content of the book,” she tweeted.
Taslima claimed on the microblogging site that Kolkata Police had asked the Kolkata Book Fair committee to cancel the book release program at the air-conditioned hall.
“No evidence Mullahs went to Kolkata Police. Publisher and others think it was government's decision to cancel my book release program,” she tweeted.
“The PBS publisher with friends have released my book under the open sky at Kolkata Book Fair. Book release in the AC hall was banned.”
Taslima fans at the fair also raised slogans demanding her return to Kolkata from where she was bundled out by the authorities in 2007 following protests.
Written in Bengali, the new book traces the circumstances which forced her to leave Kolkata which she often described as her adopted home and the resultant mental trauma and insecurity of not having a sanctuary anywhere in the world.
All-India Minority Forum President Idris Ali along with Milli Itehad Parishad General Secretary Md Aziz lodged protests with the publisher that the book should not have been launched.
Ali, leader of the Trinamool Congress Minority Cell claimed, “The chief minister had asked Mukul Roy to see that the book is not released.”
He said that a Forum delegation earlier met the Kolkata Commissioner of Police with the request that the book should not be allowed to be launched.
Asked about the reason for the protest when the book was not banned anywhere in India, Ali said “Previous parts of the autobiography hurt sentiments of Muslims. We have received lots of complaints from many quarters. We want to maintain peace.”
Aziz, on his part, threatened of an agitation at the fairground tomorrow as the publisher had gone ahead with the release despite contrary advice and demanded an apology and withdrawal of the book.
Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque N R Barkati said, “We are surprised that the book has been launched. This has sent a wrong message to society. Under the Indian Constitution, nobody has any right to hurt religious sentiments.”
The publisher, Shibani Mukherji said that restrictions on release of the book was an infringement on the right to freedom of speech and expression.
APDR functionary Sujato Bhadra said that the government had not banned Nasrin's book.
“This is a one-sided decision by the Guild. The government has changed in the state, but the attitude towards Taslima has not changed,” he said.