| Security personnel on guard outside Rajasthan House. Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha
New Delhi, Nov. 24: Stuck in a room in Rajasthan House, her future address still uncertain, Taslima Nasreen turned to machher jhol and bhaat, perhaps to satisfy her longing for Calcutta.
Taslima was brought to the multi-storey state guest-house located in the heart of the capital late last night.
“She asked for fish curry and rice for lunch, which we provided her. She also ate some typical Rajasthani food,” said an official.
Not emerging from 105 — the room allotted to her — Taslima spent a quiet day with a few visitors. Prakash Javadekar, the BJP spokesperson, called on her in the afternoon.
All calls to her room were strictly monitored.
Forced to leave on short notice from Calcutta and then Rajasthan, Taslima is believed to have travelled light.
“Officials went out and bought clothes and other necessities for her,” a source said.
The chairperson of the Rajasthan state women’s commission, Tara Bhandari — her neighbour in 102 — dropped in to enquire about her.
“I went to meet her in my official capacity,” said Bhandari. “She is a woman who has been put through a lot of trouble. She couldn’t talk freely. But she wants to go back to Calcutta.”
Taslima told Bhandari that she did not want to criticise anyone. “She didn’t say so herself, but it is disgraceful how the Bengal government has treated her.
“She assured me she was comfortable. She was eating well.”
Bhandari, who spent an hour with Taslima, said the author was restrained and did not want to talk about the controversy.
Besieged by the media and Taslima’s well-wishers from early morning, Rajasthan House became a mini-fortress. The Delhi Armed Police, guarding the entrance to the complex said they were present only as a precautionary measure against any protests by Muslim organisations.
By evening, no protesters had turned up but a troop of naked Jain monks was chased by frenzied shutter-bugs who presumed they were part of a demonstration against Taslima.
The author has found support from unexpected quarters, apart from the usual women activists and writers.
Practitioners of the Art of Living Foundation waited patiently outside for hours on end.
“We want her to know that there are people who support her,” said Sangeeta Anand.
“As a woman I admire her. I think she needs help at this moment and I don’t want to leave because she may come out and not find us here.”
Taslima is said to have done an Art of Living course in Calcutta a few years ago.