The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shocked Taslima jabs at Bengal’s ‘dark ages’

Calcutta, Nov. 29: “Dismayed” and “shocked” at the Bengal government’s decision to ban her book Dwikhandita, author Taslima Nasreen today said “only totalitarian governments indulge in this kind of an act” and that “these things (banning a book) happen only in the dark ages”.

“I feel totally let down by the government,” Taslima said from New York.

“I don’t want any riots and my book would not have caused any. What is there in my book is a reflection of what I have faced in life and what I have written is only the truth. I never expected a government which prides itself on being secular to bow before the demands of a handful of people, apparently to pre-empt riots. I had thought that religion was never a factor influencing any of its (government’s) decisions.”

Taslima said she considered Bengal the “most progressive state”. “But is this any reflection of progressiveness'” she asked today.

“So far I had thought that Calcutta did not believe in censorship, so I had never imagined that such a thing would happen to me. In Bangladesh, they censor my books without even consulting me, but I never believed that I would be faced with a ban here (Bengal).”

If she feels let down by the government, she feels “shattered” by the “support” that writers and intellectuals in Bengal have lent to the ban. “The very people who had protested the ban on Lajja are now either silent or are in agreement with the ban. This has been a shattering experience for me,” Taslima said.

“I am not asking people to like my book. People can trash my book, they can say they will not touch my book; I don’t mind that. But I can’t understand why or how writers can support the ban on a book. This does not reflect the ethos of Calcutta.”

Defending her decision to write about her relationships with men in Dwikhandita, Taslima said the book was “autobiographical” and that it was a “statement” on her life. “These are my experiences and my struggles. But my revelations have shocked people because I have not kept to convention. They never expected this. The book has been a dhakka to society, which is why the men are out to defame it. Which is also possibly why writers are not protesting the ban.”

Unlike the government and the writers who “betrayed” her, in Calcutta Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress today said the ban was “unjustified”.

“It is a totally motivated decision,” Trinamul spokesperson Pankaj Banerjee said today. “Who is the government to decide whether or not to ban the book' This decision should be left to the readers. The government has just given in to the demands of a few fundamentalists. We shall raise this issue in the state Assembly.”

BJP state president Tathagata Roy, too, condemned the decision and said his party would write to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee asking him to rethink.

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