The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Fortress’ on hillock shelters Taslima

New Delhi, Nov. 27: The Centre has shifted Taslima Nasreen to a fortified “guesthouse” on a hillock straddling the capital, capping a cloak-and-dagger operation that got off the ground after midnight.

The facility, maintained by a security agency, is spread over such a vast area that part of it spills over into another state. The Bangladeshi author is being kept on territory that falls in Delhi — a thoughtful detail that ensures she remains in the capital.

The virtual fortress has multi-layered security, besides the regulation high walls and squads of commandos. It has an officers’ mess and the guesthouse where Taslima has been lodged, sources said.

“There could not have been a safer place for Taslima. Just to enter the place, one has to pass through two security check points, protected by huge iron gates. There are separate security checks to enter different facilities inside,” an official said.

A “guest” could also be airlifted as the facility has its own helipad with a Chetak helicopter on stand-by for emergencies, the sources added.

If the Centre’s objective was to take her off the airwaves, the mission did not entirely succeed because the sound bites kept flowing out of the “undisclosed location” over phone. “Now I feel better. I feel secure. I feel more at ease,” she told PTI.

The Centre is still in touch with the Bengal government on the possibility of allowing her back in the state once the dust settles down. Sports minister Subhas Chakraborty said he would try to arrange accommodation for Taslima in Calcutta “if the Centre wants her to be in the city and if the state can manage law and order”.

Home ministry sources said the Centre decided to assume full responsibility after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired a cabinet meeting last evening. The sources said the security situation at Rajasthan House had become tenuous after the location became public knowledge.

Last night, Taslima was woken up and whisked away by security and intelligence agencies. She was first taken to a hotel on Janpath. The Intelligence Bureau reportedly makes use of a top-floor suite to host “secret guests”, including some Naga leaders and Nepalese Maoist leader Prachanda.

Taslima was taken in an Ambassador car, in a cavalcade of eight escort and pilot cars. However, by early morning, the security agencies realised that it was virtually impossible to control access to the hotel. She was then moved to the secure guesthouse.

Sources said the Centre’s emissaries were hoping that the Bengal government would let her return to Calcutta. “If this does not happen, the Centre will have to decide what to do after her visa expires on February 17, 2008,” an official said.

Taslima’s cousin Faizal Kabir is with her at the new guesthouse. His visa, which had expired on November 24, has been extended, the sources said. ( )

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