Rushdie video discussion to go ahead at Lit Fest

Jaipur: Ending the suspense, Jaipur Literature Festival organisers today said the video session with the controversial author Salman Rushdie will take place as planned after Rajasthan government gave the go ahead.

"We have received information that there was no requirement of any permission," Festival producer Sanjoy Roy told reporters. The five-day festival ends today.

The Rushdie session – `Midnight`s Child` – is planned for 3.45 pm where the India-born author will discuss his childhood, his work, problems faced in the past years and the adaptation of his novel Midnight`s Children into a film.

Rushdie had pulled out of the event citing death threats. "We are going ahead with the link at 3.45 pm," he said. Roy also said the state government has not asked the organisers to give any undertaking.

A delighted Roy said the video session is expected to last for about an hour and it will be according to the law of the land. "It is needless to say that any conversation here will be according to the law of the land. We hope it would happen peacefully," he added.

Roy said the organisers are delighted that the entire controversy over the video link with Rushdie will be put to rest. He said yesterday that Rushdie is currently in Europe.

The 65-year-old author`s Satanic Verses has been banned in India for allegedly hurting the sentiments of the Muslim community. The book cast a shadow on the Festival when four authors read out passages from it leading to complaints against them and the organisers in courts in Jaipur and Ajmer.

Roy said the Rajasthan government never asked for an undertaking. "At no point did the government say to us that we are not giving security or that Rushide should not come," he said.

Asked if the organisers had given any advisory to Rushdie for the session, he said, "We have not given anybody any advisory. We have told everybody that it will be within the laws of the country". "The session will not necessarily focus on readings of any of his work that has been banned in this country," the festival organiser said.

On the complaints filed against some authors, Roy said, "We had an inquiry from the police and we have given them our version of what happened on January 20 when some authors read out from a piece of paper from excerpts of Rushdie?s book. The rest we will see as and when it happens".

"We still do not have any information on what actually the complaint has been filed on. I could just see one of the papers," he said.

"We have continued to receive information, though I am not in a position to say whether it is right or wrong. Conspiracy theories will continue in India.
According to what we know, we got information not just from the Rajasthan government but also from other sources that there was a credible threat. I cannot evaluate whether the threat was serious or very serious. This is what we were told," he said while speaking about the threat to Rushdie.

Asked if the security has been beefed up for the event, he said, "We have had a lot of security due to the issue since the start of the festival, and it has been very good.

On whether Muslim organisations are expected to protest on the video link issue, Roy said, "I have just received some submissions of letters from a number of organisations. I am yet to read them".

Asked about the mechanism through which the session will be carries out, he said, "Earlier we were thinking of holding it through Skype. But now it will be through a private channel studio.

"The government will have no control over it. The session will be done within the laws of the country and any action required to be taken on it, we will do it in house," he said, adding, "We are still working on that".