Nov. 30: Taslima Nasreen today said she would withdraw passages from her book that have offended Muslims.
“I have never tried to hurt the sentiments of any section of people or community. This has never been my intention and never will be. But if any Indian has been hurt by what I have written in two pages of Dwikhandito, then I’m ready to withdraw those two pages,” the Bangladeshi author told The Telegraph.
Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee welcomed the decision. “That’s good,” he said.
Her offer was also taken up by the Jamait Ulema-i-Hind, which was part of the November 21 protest against Taslima in Calcutta that snowballed into street riots.
General secretary Maulana Mahmood Madani said: “Protests against Taslima should stop if she has withdrawn those portions from her book that are against Islam. We don’t have any problem if she stays in India.”
The withdrawal is possibly part of efforts to persuade Bengal to allow the author back once things cool off.
Taslima, living in a safe house in Delhi with no access to Bengali newspapers or TV channels, has repeatedly said she wants to return. She left after the November 21 riots.
People’s Book Society, publishers of Dwikhandito, said they would come out with a new edition “without the two controversial paragraphs”. “We have no stocks of Dwikhandito right now,” said publisher Shibani Mukherjee.
Siddiqullah Choudhury, Jamait’s Bengal leader and convener of the Milli Ittehad Parishad, was not impressed. “Madani Saheb probably was not fully aware of the blasphemous contents of Taslima’s Bengali books…. We should not judge her by today’s words but wait to see what she does.’’
His colleague, Abdul Aziz, advised the state “burdened” with Nandigram not to take the “extra burden of hosting her again”.
The Parishad, a forum of 12 outfits that led the November 21 protests, will meet on Sunday to decide on Taslima.