The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gag on ‘guest’ Taslima

New Delhi, Nov. 28: Taslima Nasreen can stay on as India’s guest but will have to mind her tongue.

The Centre today said it would continue to protect the Bangladeshi author as India had never “refused” anyone shelter.

This “civilisational heritage, which is now government policy, will continue”, foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee told Parliament in a statement, but added a word of advice to the controversial writer. She would have to “refrain from activities and expressions” that might “harm” India’s relations with “friendly” countries and “hurt the sentiments of our people”.

He added that as along as “guests” like Taslima were in India, the Centre and state governments would “provide them protection”.

Although expansive on India’s “civilisational” legacy, the statement didn’t mention why Taslima had to flee CPM-ruled Bengal and was silent on the way the author was tossed from state to state, ostensibly for security reasons.

It was clear the government didn’t want to risk embarrassing its ally as Taslima’s flight from Calcutta after last Wednesday’s violence by minority protesters had provoked a debate on artistic freedom.

The BJP called Mukherjee’s statement “meaningless” and “incomplete”.

“The statement is silent on why she was forced out of Bengal. Is she free to return to Calcutta' There is also no mention of whether she would be provided security,” party leader V.K. Malhotra said.

Malhotra also wanted to know why the government hadn’t “categorically” said if Taslima would be allowed to stay anywhere she liked in India and if her visa would be extended once it expired.

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