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PUCL condemns those opposing Salman Rushdie’s visit to Jaipur

January 17, 2012

This release comes from the PEOPLE’ S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES, RAJASTHAN

16 January 2012, Jaipur: PUCL strongly condemns Muslim organisations, the Congress and the BJP for opposing Salman Rushdie’s proposed visit to Jaipur

Some Muslim organisations have opposed Salman Rusdie’s participation in the Jaipur Literature Festival. Leaders of the Congress and the Bhartiya Janta Party have also come out strongly in opposition to Rushdie’s visit. Some newspaper reports have carried announcements that Rushdie could be forcibly prevented from coming and attending the literary event.

The opposition is not merely ideological but is also by threatening to disturb law and order. The Rajasthan unit of the PUCL expresses deep concern at such announcements. Such regressive threats are not only an attack on the individual’s right to freedom of speech and expression and a violation of rights granted by the Constitution of India. Such threats also promote communal disharmony, if not deliberately seek to widen communal rifts. 

The PUCL is not defending or opposing any views held by Salman Rushdie, but supports his right to free expression, and condemns censorship by violent opposition and threats. There are no criminal charges being pursued against his book in any Indian court. As a person of Indian origin, he has a PIO card, and is entitled to visit any part of India whenever he likes. To prevent Rushdie from visiting India and to deny him the right to freedom of speech and expression through threats of violence is unconstitutional and unethical.

PUCL condemns all those who make such attempts and expects Muslim intellectuals to pro-actively oppose and condemn threats of violence, and thus render them ineffective. PUCL has always stood with them in the struggle for human rights and will always do so.

Sd/-

Prem Krishan Sharma
Kavita Srivastava

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2012 6:52 PM

    In this episode, we see that all fundamentalists; Hindu, Muslims and others, and all political opportunists; Congress, BJP and others are at same footings. There is no respect for freedom of speech and expression in their eye. Further, they have no understanding to express their own expressions but to threat law and order of the nation. They all are not patriotic at all. These are my personal views..

  2. January 18, 2012 12:08 AM

    Here, in Hindi, is another release from PUCL Rajasthan, after a protest they held in Jaipur:

    आज जयपुर में सलमान रूश्दी की जयपुर यात्रा को लेकर किया जा रहा विरोध को लेकर प्रदर्शन |

    मुख्यमंत्री से अपील की सलमान रूश्दी को जयपुर में अपनी अभिव्यक्ति के अधिकार का उपयोग करने दिया जाये एवं उन्हें उचित सुरक्षा प्रदान की जाये।

    आज पी.यू.सी.एल. के नेतृत्व में अनेक नागरिक अम्बेडकर सर्किल पर इकट्ठे हुये और उन्होंने संविधान में दिये गये अभिव्यक्ति के अधिकार पर कुठाराघात ना हो इसकी मांग मुख्यमंत्री से की साथ ही पुरजोर शब्दों में कहा कि राजस्थान सरकार मुसलमान समुदाय के कुछ संकीण सोच के नेताओं के विरोध के कारण इन कट्टर पंथीयों के तुष्टीकरण की दोषी बनी है। प्रदर्शन में जो कुछ मुस्लिम संगठनों सलमान रूष्दी के लिटरेचर फेस्टिबल में भाग लेने के लिए जयपुर आने का विरोध कर रहे है उनसे भी अपील की वे अपना विरोध वापस ले। यह भी आषा व्यक्त की गई कि मुसलमान समाज का प्रभुत वर्ग को सक्रिय होकर इस प्रकार विरोध की हिंसक घोषणाओं को निष्प्रभावी करना चाहिये एवं उन्हे विश्वास भी दिलाया मानव अधिकारों के लिए सघर्ष में पी.यू.सी.एल. हमेषा उनके साथ खड़ा हुआ है और आगे भी होता रहेगा।

    सभी का मानना था कि दोनो पार्टी कांग्रेस एवं भाजपा, बढ़-चढ़ के विरोध इसलिए कर रही है कि क्योंकि सभी को उत्तर प्रदेश के चुनाव नजर आ रहे है। मुख्यमंत्री का वक्तव्य कि सलमान रूश्दी ं सुरक्षा के लिए खतरा है, इसे हास्यास्पद निन्दनीय मानते हुये, कहा कि सरकार का कर्त्तव्य है कि वे पूर्ण सुरक्षा प्रदान करे ना कि भारत सरकार से पैरवी करे सलमान रूश्दी को जयपुर आने से रोका जाये आने से रोकना चाहिये।

    यह भी स्पष्ट किया गया कि सलमान रूष्दी के विचारो से पी.यू.सी.एल. को कोई हमदर्दी नहीं है लेकिन इसका मतलब यह नहीं है कि किसी के स्वतन्त्र विचारों को हिंसक विरोध से रोकने की कोषिष की जाय। सलमान रूश्दी के विरोध में उनकी किताब को लेकर भारत में कोई भी अपराधिक मामला नहीं चल रहा हैं । साथ ही पीआई ओं श्रेणी के भारतीय होने के नाते वे कभी भी आ जा सकते है। सलमान रूश्दी को आने से रोकना एवं उनकी विचारो की स्वतंत्रता पर हमला बोलने की धमकी देना संविधानिक एवं नैतिक दोनों नजरियों से उनके अधिकारों का उल्लंघन है।

    अन्त में मुख्यमंत्री से यह भी मांग की कि सलमान रूश्दी को जयपुर में अपनी अभिव्यक्ति के अधिकार का उपयोग करने दिया जाये एवं उन्हें उचित सुरक्षा प्रदान की जाये।

    प्रदर्शन ने निम्न लोगों ने भाग लिया प्रेमकृष्ण शर्मा, अध्यक्ष, कविता श्रीवास्तव महासचिव, अधिवक्ता अजय कुमार जैन, साबीर खान, डॉ. मीता सिंह, प्रेम रंजन, नवीन, अशोक खण्डेलवाल, हेमलता, कमल टांक, भंवर लाल कुमावत, किर्ती, निर्मल, हंसराज, विष्णु शर्मा एवं अन्य।

    प्रेमकृष्ण शर्मा कविता श्रीवास्तव
    अध्यक्ष महासचिव

  3. Ram Sharma permalink
    January 18, 2012 5:15 AM

    The Satanic Verses of Salman Rushdie was banned in India and I am not sure if that ban has been lifted. When that book was made available to me many years ago, courtesy a leftist friend, I refused to read. I believe, the freedom of speech has its limits. It does not mean that legal rights of Mr. Rushdie should be taken away, and his right to visit India is certainly one of them. The government of India has responsibility to protect him from illegal and illogical protesters. On the other hand, if Rushdie insults any religion in India, an appropriate legal action can be taken. It should be pointed out, however, that the criticism of a certain belief system is not necessarily an insult. Fortunately, the ancient Indian tradition allows ample freedom to analyse, discuss and debate every set of beliefs, and we should treasure that freedom.

  4. January 19, 2012 12:12 AM

    i suspect pucl’s intention is good but to address people as muslim intellectuals is absurd,it smacks of a divisive mindset,actually is totally aburd given the context. it will be more sensible to address people as intellectuals, whether hindu or muslim, does not matter. we should all stand equally for freedom of expression.

    • January 21, 2012 5:53 AM

      but saba sometimes it is required to address the precise group, in this case the muslim intellectuals, to make them understand their particular responsibilities more and to act correspondingly.

  5. January 19, 2012 4:00 AM

    i feel strongly that we should not let a similar situation prevail in india as it did in the sad case of ms. taslima nasreen. it is time we, really secular forces, gave them, the fundamentalists amongst Muslims, a clear reply that we will challenge all their threats.i

  6. Ali Mir permalink
    January 26, 2012 1:01 AM

    Why is the PUCL *expecting* Muslim intellectuals to denounce this? What is this, a loyalty test?!

  7. suresh permalink
    January 26, 2012 5:20 PM

    Why is the PUCL *expecting* Muslim intellectuals to denounce this? What is this, a loyalty test?!

    Absolutely right, though you should have emphasized Muslim. It is not the expectation that is problematic, it is that PUCL seems to expect something from Muslim intellectuals which they don’t expect from other intellectuals. I don’t see why not; after all, the matter concerns all of us. They should have said “all intellectuals” or perhaps, “everyone who stands for freedom of expression.”

    To prevent Rushdie from visiting India and to deny him the right to freedom of speech and expression through threats of violence is unconstitutional and unethical.

    In my opinion, this is what gives a bad name to PUCL. The privileges and responsibilities conferred by the constitution of India apply to Indian citizens. Rushdie is not one; being a “person of Indian origin” does not make him one. I don’t think that the PIO card even allows him to enter India as such; it only allows him to travel to India without having to obtain a visa first. As those of us who have travelled abroad know well, the mere possession of a visa does not mean that you can enter a country. All that it enables you to do is to travel to the country concerned and present your visa to the immigration officer there. The immigration officer can deny you entry. It is not that long ago that Kafila reported the case of Richard Shapiro who travelled to India with a valid visa and was then denied entry. Anyway, all that I want to say is that the constitution of India does not apply here and invoking it makes no sense.

    As Indians, we (all of us) certainly ought to be concerned because the episode does not reflect well on our country (in my opinion). I think that everyone should have the right to express his/her opposition to Rushdie or whoever, but within the limits permitted by the law. It is not the opposition that bothers me; it is the implicit threat of violence that disturbs me. At least, Rushdie is not an Indian citizen: we ought to remember that M. F. Husain — an Indian citizen — was hounded by threats of violence into fleeing India. This trend, if it continues, does not bode well for our country.

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