KOLKATA witnessed mob violence on Wednesday in the wake of a protest called by a little known group called the All India Minority Forum. Although the group was ostensibly protesting against the CPI (M) atrocities in Nandigram, Islamic fundamentalists shifted the focus to their campaign against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin.
Nandigram has a large Muslim population. Several Muslim organizations were cooperating with the Bhoomi Uchched Samiti, which spearheaded the agitation against eviction.
Taslima Nasrin, author of several best-sellers, had fled Bangladesh in 1994 after extremist groups in the country targeted her and she lost her job as doctor at the Dhaka Medical College.
The fundamentalists were annoyed with her as she had said religious scriptures were out of time and out of place. She had also called for a uniform civil code that accorded women equality and justice.
An organization by the name of Soldiers of Islam issued a fatwa against her and set a price on her head. Fourteen political parties and religious organizations jointly called a general strike and demanded that she be hanged. There were several street demonstrations in Dhaka, and newspapers which published her writings were attacked.
After spending a few years in exile in Europe, Taslima Nasrin came to India and took up residence in Kolkata. Islamic fundamentalists have been opposing her stay in the country since then. Last August, goons led by three MLAs of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen attacked her at the Press Club in Hyderabad, when she went there to address a press conference.
Apparently the harassed CPI (M) leadership is ready to appease the communal forces. The party’s State secretary Biman Bose said Taslima Nasrin must leave the State to ensure that violence did not recur.
Taslima Nasrin’s current visa expires on February 17 next year.
In a statement, the Mumbai-based group EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity) deplored the fundamentalists’ demand for Taslima Nasreen’s expulsion.
EKTA said, “The linking up of this demand with protests against the state-sponsored bloodbath in Nandigram is highly intriguing, to say the least. We join our voices with all voices of sanity in decrying this act of criminal insanity seriously threatening the social peace and equilibrium in the city.
“We do highly welcome the decision of the State government to deploy the Army to restore peace and also confidence of the common citizens. We do, however, strongly deplore the call given by the CPI(M) State Secretary and the ruling Left Front Chairman, Biman Bose, before TV cameras that Ms. Nasrin should leave the State forthwith in theinterest of peace. We consider such comment highly provocative and downright nauseating.
"The reported offer by the city police to the Bangladeshi writer tomove her out of the State cannot but be linked to the comment made by the LF Chairman. We do strongly protest such move.”
Official website of Taslima Nasrin at http://taslimanasrin.com/
PS: CNN-IBN reports that West Bengal police has moved Taslima Nasrin to Rajasthan.
PPS: Biman Bose withdrew his statement a day later. This was done after the West Bengal police removed Taslima Nasrin to Rajasthan. It is nevertheless welcome as it indicates his – and, hopefully, his party’s – readiness to respect public sentiments.