Kolkata: Exiled Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen on Wednesday said she supports the poets who were vilified for their criticism of Yogi Adityanath, but questioned their silence when she was “bundled out” of West Bengal in 2007.
She said that she had always fought for freedom of speech, but at the same time one cannot be “selective” while exercising that freedom.
Her remarks came a day after a case was registered against unknown persons for threatening eminent Bengali poet Mandakranta Sen with gangrape for expressing solidarity with fellow poet Srijato who recently was embroiled in a controversy after writing a poem allegedly hurting “Hindu sentiments”.
“Where were these two when I was forced out of West Bengal by ‘fundamentalists’ for my writing in 2007?” Nasreen said in a telephonic interview.
She said, “I stand beside Srijato for his views and Mandakranta too. I have been vocal for freedom of speech and that’s why I support both of them. But one cannot be selective in asserting one’s freedom of speech… Where were they when I was forced out of West Bengal in 2007?” A Hindutva group had lodged a police complaint against
Srijato for posting a 12-line poem on Facebook on 19 March, the day Yogi Adityanath was sworn in as the chief minister of UP allegedly hurting “Hindu sentiments”.
The author regretted that Srijato and Mandakranta were protesting because their freedom of speech came under threat, but pointed out that they wrote only when “Hindu fundamentalists attack”. “They do not write when Muslim fundamentalists or Christian fundamentalists attack and their partiality was manifest by their attitude,” the writer of famous novels like “Lajja” lamented.
Referring to the recent killing of Tamil Nadu atheist and Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam activist H Farook, Nasreen said, “Where were they when Farooq was killed? I have not seen them spending a single word on that incident. Where were these people when so many persons, bloggers were hacked to death in Bangladesh?”
Farook, a 31-year-old daily wage labourer, was hacked to death in Coimbatore last week, a fortnight after he had posted a photo of one of his children holding a placard with the handwritten slogan ‘Kadavul illai, Kadavul illai, Kadavul illai (No God, No God, No God)’.
Nasreen also wondered why Srijato’s pen was silent after the Khagragarh blasts, Dhulagarh violence and incidents of gang-rape reported in West Bengal. “But it’s not the same thing with me unlike the pseudo-secular people.. I stand for everybody. I don’t see whether someone is a Christian or a Hindu or a Muslim fundamentalist when I speak out,” she said.
On Mandakranta Sen receiving rape threat because of standing beside Srijato, Nasreen said, “This is a very common matter in today’s world. I have come across a thousand girls who get such threats everyday. Even I have got such threats several times. But people are making an issue out of it because it has happened to Mandakranta.