JAIPUR: The four writers, who read out the banned Satanic Verses in violation the law of land, have run away from the Jaipur Literature Festival to undisclosed destination. They were facing imminent arrest following carrying and reading out extracts from Salman Rushdie's banned novel, "The Satanic Verses".
William Dalrymple, the co-Director of the Jaipur Literature Festival told the Hindu newspaper that Hari Kunzru, Ruchir Joshi, Amitava Kumar and Jeet Thayil have all left the Jaipur on the advice of their lawyer.
The paper said that the police had gone to Hari Kunzru's room to question him but he had already hurriedly left town.
“What a lot of people don't realise is that even reading from a banned book is against the law. This is part of a piece of absurd and draconian legislation going back to 1867 or thereabouts. I am convinced that the writers who did the readings were not aware that this is a punishable offence and could carry a fairly long prison sentence. You can discuss book, read from other writings by the author, have conversations with him, invite him, but you cannot either possess a copy or publicly read from a book that is banned. That is a punishable offence,” Dalrymple realized after his esteemed guests already committed punishable offence.
Meanwhile noted writer Chetan Bhagat said that organizers of the festival should not make heroes out of people who have been banned.
“Let us not make heroes out of people who have been banned,” said the best- selling author in clear reference to Salman Rushdie.
“They have been banned for hurting people. They have been banned for hurting Muslims. They shouldn’t be banned but they are not heroes,” he said.
“You can say Muslims are backward, aggressive, that’s fine. But they are right to get upset when their god is attacked. I wouldn’t like it if my gods are attacked,” Bhagat contended.
The legal experts say the police should book the authors (who read out portion of the banned book) under sections 153 A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) and 295 A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code and immediately arrest them.
As Salman Rushdie could not make it to the festival due to perceived threat to his life, authors Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar and two others used their session at the festival to read from "Satanic Verses", giving clear indications that the festival was organized to create ill will within India..
The controversial book was banned in the India shortly after it was published in 1988, for hurting the sentiments of Muslims.
These authors referred to the book during their own readings and discussions and actually went on to read out portions from the book.