Complaints against four authors for ‘The Satanic Verses’ reading

Jaipur, Jan 23 (IANS) Muslim groups have filed six complaints in courts in Jaipur and Ajmer against four authors — Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Ruchir Joshi and Jeet Thayil — for reading out excerpts from ‘The Satanic Verses’ by Salman Rushdie and discussing the book at the Jaipur Literature Festival Jan 20.

Addressing the media here Monday, Kavita Srivastava, national secretary of Public Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL), said: ‘Five complaints have been filed in Jaipur lower court and one in Ajmer.’

The Jaipur and Ajmer courts will decide whether the complaints can be admitted and first information reports (FIRs) lodged against the accused.

‘The cases have been filed by people from all kinds of denominations,’ Srivastava said.

Citing instances, she said one of the complainants was Daulat Khan, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minorities cell while two others were Abdul Latif of All India Milli Council and Muzzafar Bharti, a primary member of the Congress party.

The six complainants belong to different organisations.

The complaints also named the organisers of the festival, Sanjoy Roy and Namita Gokhale, in their petitions.

‘The complainants had charged the four writers and the festival organisers with hurting the religious sentiments of the Muslims and using offensive words in their discussion under Sections 153 A, 295 and 298 of the Indian Penal Code,’ she said.

‘The Satanic Verses’ is banned in India for its ‘controversial content’ that the Muslims allege is an insult to Islam.

Salman Rushdie, who was supposed to take part in the festival Jan 20-24, dropped his plans at the last moment fearing threat to his life following intelligence alerts.

He is expected to address the festival Tuesday via video from Europe where he is currently located, Sanjoy Roy told the media.

He will be in conversation with an anchor about his Man Booker prize winning book ‘Midnight’s Children’, his journey from childhood as a writer and the adaptation of the book into a movie at 3.30 p.m., Roy said.

Addressing the media, Roy said the video conference was on as scheduled.

‘The police have sought clarification on the format and timing of Rushdie’s address and we have sent a letter stating the time and format. We are yet to receive a reply,’ Roy said.

‘It was no undertaking, no affidavit, just a clarification,’ he added.

Roy said he had not formally heard ‘about the complaints against the writer or the organisers of the festival in court’.