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Shadow of Salman

On Saturday afternoon, the KLM session titled The Second One, which dwelt on a writer's second work, started with one of the most famous second novels — Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.

In the light of Rushdie not being allowed to come to Calcutta, moderator Arunava Sinha said writers needed to “reclaim” Calcutta and the rest of India. He then invited the four writers on the stage to say a few words on this.

Jeet Thayil, who faced the heat for reading out portions of The Satanic Verses at the Jaipur Literature Festival last year, said: “It seems to me there is this contingent of people just looking to get offended. It’s a new phenomenon in India.”

Ruchir Joshi, who had to leave Jaipur after reading out portions of The Satanic Verses at the lit fest last year, said: “This is not a majority of Calcuttans or a majority of Indians that's doing this. It is a small fascist phalange of people that cuts across parties.”

Delhi-based writer Mridula Koshy said: “It would be a travesty to deny writers their space. We need a culture of confidence.” Amitabha Bagchi, also Delhi-based, said: “I have great respect for Calcutta and the people of the city should do something about the current state of affairs to ensure that one doesn’t lose that respect.”