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Taslima welcome back in Kolkata, says Basu
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, December 25
Veteran Jyoti Basu said today Taslima Nasreen was welcome back in Kolkata, though there was hardly any possibility of her immediate return to the city.

The Centre’s decision on her stay out of the city had already been conveyed to the Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, the ministry sources claimed.

The sources further said Taslima would be forced back to Sweden after the expiry of her visa on February 18.

Taslima had been sanctioned time to time tourist visa as wanted by the Chief Minister for enabling her to live in the city and get involved in her literary activities.

But the rioting incident in the city on November 22 had changed the situation.

The controversial Bangladeshi writer was forced to leave the city in the wake of serious communal disturbances over her derogatory writings on Prophet Mohammad and the Islam.

The writer-friendly Chief Minister initially admired Taslima’s bold writings and welcomed her to Bengal’s literary world, but later he thought it wise to get rid of her.

There was tremendous pressure from the Muslim community and the city’s several Imams, who were wanting Taslima’s immediate deportation to Bangladesh.

Bhattacharjee also yielded to the Muslim community’s pressure for protecting the CPM’s Muslim voters.

Accordingly, Bhattacharjee sought Pranab Mukherjee’s help, who also responded quickly and rescued him as a UPA’s strategy to counteract the CPM’s objection on the Indo-US nuclear pact. And soon, Taslima was forced to leave the city.

She was sheltered at a government guest house in New Delhi. Her whereabouts and movements had been kept a closely guarded secret.

Taslima could not adjust herself in the new situation and instead she wrote and requested all important people and her writer friends and well-wishers, many of whom, incidentally were also close to the Chief Minister.

They tried to persuade the Chief Minister to let Taslima back in the city once again, but in vain.

And now when Taslima had already made up her mind to leave the country and return to Sweden, Basu today made a public statement welcoming her back to Kolkata.

He wanted the Centre to take the responsibility of Taslima’s security.

Taslima, however, made it clear that she would better leave the country if she was not allowed to live in Kolkata and lead her literary activities.

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