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Chennai may welcome Taslima
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, November 24
Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen might not find a safe haven either in Kolkata or Jaipur, but she seems to be welcome in this southern metropolis.

While a number of human rights activists have welcomed Taslima here, there are many fundamentalist Muslim organisations that feel that she will “just be a trouble maker in a peaceful state like Tamil Nadu”.

Convicted by a court in Bangladesh for blasphemy and in exile for more than 15 years, Taslima recently sought Indian citizenship and moved to Kolkata.

The Marxist government allowed her to stay in Kolkata till Wednesday’s violent agitation following which they kept changing their stand and ultimately flew her to Jaipur.

The BJP government in Rajasthan too seemed to be not keen to court trouble and apprehending violence by Muslim fundamentalists shifted her to a place near Delhi.

But many here are ready to receive the controversial author for her “boldness and secularism”.

President of People’s Union of Civil Liberties Dr V. Suresh said, “The DMK government should welcome her here as the Dravidian movement had been a victim of gag order in the 50s and 60s. Taslima had been attacked because of her writings. It is a question of freedom of speech and sensibilities vary.”

According to another human rights activist Ossie Fernandez, “We belong to a Dravidian tradition. The government of Tamil Nadu also claims to be secular. So Chennai would definitely be a safer place for Nasreen.”

There are many wome’s groups that are contemplating to convene meetings to express solidarity with Taslima. According to R. Geetha of Women’s Struggle Committee, “The entire women’s movement here should support her.”

However, AIADMK legislator and a leading Muslim women’s rights activist Bader Sayeed played her cards in a different way by stating, “We have a chief minister who has no respect for religions. So it will be best for Nasreen to go to countries like US or Sweden.”

There are many intellectuals who agreed on this issue but some progressive Muslim writers and poets felt that Taslima’s writings had hurt religious sentiments and she had “crossed her limits”.

A woman leader of an Islamic student organisation in Tamil Nadu said on the condition of anonymity, “She has no sense of decency least to speak about religion. She came back to India after staying in Europe for 10 years. She has an agenda. She went to Rajasthan, as guest of the BJP government. All this proves that she just wants publicity and money for herself. Not only in south India, she should never be allowed in any part of India to create communal trouble. She has created enough trouble in a secular state like West Bengal.”

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No place for Taslima if she meddles with religion: UNPA
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

Vijayawada, November 24
In a court warning to controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, the United Nationalist Progress Alliance (UNPA), a confederation of regional parties today said she should desist from attacking any religion and apologise for what she has written in her book, if she wants to stay here in peace.

“If she wants to stay in peace and let others stay in peace, she should say sorry for what she has written and must not repeat the kind of utterances she has been making,” National Conference Patron and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah told mediapersons after the UNPA adopted a multi-issue resolution, including Taslima issue.

“She can’t play with religion and attacking religion in any form is condemnable. You had seen the flare up in Kolkata and earlier in Hyderabad. One cannot say what will happen if she goes to another city,” Abdullah said.

Going beyond the resolution adopted at the UNPA meeting ahead of the “Rythu Garjana” (farmers’ voice) rally here, Abdullah said “she had to pay price not only for herself but for the country. If she continues to attack religion, then she will not find any place to hide.”

Having virtually been expelled from Kolkata, Taslima has been on the run. She had gone to Jaipur from where she was shifted to Delhi yesterday.

The meeting also attended by Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, Jharkhand Vikas Party chief and former state Chief Minister Babulal Marandi and AGP chief Brindaban Goswami, came down heavily on the Congress-led UPA government for its anti-farmers and anti-poor policies and warned the Centre against going ahead with the Indo-US nuclear agreement without the ratification of Parliament.

Stressing that the anti-farmer policies were responsible for the food shortage in the country, UNPA convenor Chandrababu Naidu said, “Faulty policies coupled with inadequate Minimum Support Price (MSP) to farmers will

aggravate the situation further.”

Pointing out that over one lakh farmers have committed suicide across the country during the three-and-a-half years of the UPA rule, Naidu demanded that the Centre should give one time waiver on crop loans of small and marginal farmers, slash the interest rate on farm loans to 3 per cent from the present 7 per cent and increase the MSP on wheat, paddy, maize, cotton, groundnut, sugarcane, coconut, pulses, jowar, millets, oil seeds and all other agricultural products.

“Enhancement of MSP is crucial to achieve food security in the country as everyone knows that we just can’t achieve that through imports,” Naidu said demanding raising the MSP for Paddy to Rs 1,000 per quintal.

Chautala warned the government against forceful acquisition of land from farmers for special economic zones (SEZs) and said the UNPA will take the UPA head on against any anti-farmer policy.

“We are not opposed to SEZs. We are also not opposed to farmers selling their land on their own to private developers but we will not allow the government to acquire land on behalf of the private players,” Chautala said.

The UNPA, which is keen to forge an alliance with the Left Parties ahead of the next Lok Sabha election, expectedly remained soft against the CPM-led West Bengal government on the killings and the police action in Nandigram.

“We urge the leaders of political parties not to politicise the Nandigram issue and help in restoration of peace there,” Amar Singh said.

Condemning the blasts in Lucknow, Faislabad and Varanasi, Mulayam Singh Yadav took exception to UP Chief Minister Mayawati trying to pass on the buck to the Centre.

“Law and order is a state subject and Mayawati just can’t absolve herself of her responsibilities. When we (SP) were in power, we successfully foiled terrorists attempt in Ayodhya but now she is terming me and Amar Singh as terrorists and has put behind bars over 10,000 political workers of the Samajwadi Party dubbing them as terrorists,” Yadav disclosed.

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