The Rushdie Tapes!..... In conversation with Barkha Dutt
The Rushdie video tapes which became more of a symbolic act to show solidarity with writer Salman Rushdie, as he was denied entry to the country of his origin. The fundamentalists and religious hardliners made sure that although Rushdie was not allowed entry, neither his banned book, 'Satanic verses' could be discussed nor any passage could be read from it, by any anybody! When the time was allotted for the video link with Rushdie from London, people claiming to be the anti Salman brigade started gathering outside the venue, and forced the organizers' to cancel the video link altogether.! This was seen to be the ultimate strangulation of 'freedom of speech' and murder of democratic traditions of Indian polity. Ultimately, it was left to the braveheart of Indian journalism, Barkha Dutt to interview Rushdie from an undisclosed location in Jaipur via video link and broadcast it on NDTV. The above pics bear testimony to the fiery intensity of the debate where Barkha and Salman talk about various topics, including why and how he was denied entry to India! He squarely blamed the religious fundamentalists and hardliners for opposing his entry and expressed surprise that in spite of having come earlier, unopposed, why his visit was evoking so much hatred and spewing venom this time around! The outburst to Rushdie not being able to express his views via video link was seen as a muzzling of sane secular voices in this great country, and the victory of religious fanatics fanning the fire of communal politics! In no way it was a signal that any Indian is not conscious of the Muslim community's right to peaceful protest! If at all, it was expressing just the opposite, solidarity to the average Muslim that while he was free to protest peacefully, he should not be strangled by the overpowering and overbearing voices of communalism and those fanning hatred in the minds of the common man! The average Muslim perhaps clearly understands this that the entire country is standing behind them like a rock, and is only helping them uphold the peaceful right to protest!
I sign off by wishing everybody a very Happy Republic Day, and may there be faith in each other and the saner elements in all communities prevail, and march towards building a free and prosperous India! Cheers!