16 January 2012
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.
Prem Krishan Sharma
People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan