Is the Jaipur Literary Festival deliberately being targeted?

What is happening in Jaipur?

Last year we were witness to an unseemly reaction to the proposed attendance of Salman Rushdie by Muslim groups who apparently objected to one of the author’s books titled “Satanic Verses”. Curiously Rushdie had been visiting Indian off and on for years. He is also a PIO (Person of Indian Origin). The organizers were harassed and even a complaint was filed with the police by the reactionary forces against four attending authors who had read from the Satanic Verses – Ruchir Joshi, Jeet Thayil, Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar; and against the organizers for offending the religious sensibilities of the Muslims.

These same forces somehow overlooked Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s attendance two years ago at the 2010 edition of the festival! It is evident that the mob were not “made aware” of her contribution to world literature and the civil & human rights of women in Islam.

Now at this year’s festival, Ashis Nandy, a noted Indian political psychologist, social theorist, and a contemporary cultural and political critic is at the centre of a controversy. He is believed to have commented in a panel discussion that the OBC, Dalits etc. as most corrupt. That is, basically all lower caste/backward castes are more corrupt.

Many self righteous self appointed gendarmes of political correctness, those who want to exploit this controversy for their own political ends and a slightly breathless media have all but crucified him. Ashis has fled Jaipur city just like the Indian authors who had read parts of Satanic verses at the 2012!

News Update:

–          Additional commissioner of police Biju George Joseph said the organisers were asked to remain in the city as a probe is going on against Nandy and festival producer Sanjoy Roy.

“We asked the organisers not to leave the city in order to complete the probe,” Joseph said.

Confirming the development, Roy said, “I have signed the papers on behalf of the JLF team to comply with the orders.”

An FIR was lodged against Nandy and Roy last Saturday by Rajpal Meena, Chairperson of the SC/ST Rajasthan Manch, after Nandy stoked a controversy with comments that people from OBC, SC and ST were the “most corrupt”.

What a shame that an international literary festival is being deliberately targeted by reactionary forces.

What a shame that the world’s largest democracy is itself prisoner to persons/groups who/that want to muzzle free speech.

What a shame that reactionary forces appear to be targeting the Jaipur Literary Festival.