Rushdie says local government did not allow visit to Indian city

Fri Feb 1, 2013 8:12am EST
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KOLKATA (Reuters) - British author Salman Rushdie accused local authorities on Friday of making it impossible for him to visit the Indian city of Kolkata to promote the film adaptation of his novel "Midnight's Children".

On Wednesday, Rushdie, whose 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses" is banned in India due to its depiction of Islam, abandoned plans to attend a publicity event in the eastern city after about 100 protesters gathered outside the city's airport.

Rushdie, in a statement, said he was informed that the police would refuse him entry and that the decision was at the behest of West Bengal state's chief minister, Mamata Banerjee. He did not say who had told him this.

The Indian-born author said a police source had issued details of his planned visit to the media.

"This was a clear invitation to troublemakers to do their worst and about 100 people duly turned up at the airport to oppose my arrival. I can't help feeling that this too was a part of the authorities' plan," he said.

The West Bengal government reiterated its stance that it did not have details of the author's visit.

"We were absolutely in the dark about the invitation to Mr. Rushdie. It could be a private invitation, but we were not informed of it and it did not reach us," West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim told Reuters.

Javed Shamim, joint commissioner of police in Kolkata, declined to comment.

Rushdie said that he had been planning to participate in the International Kolkata Book Fair and had been asked by organizers to appear as a "surprise guest".   Continued...

Demonstrators gather outside Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport to protest against a visit by British author Salman Rushdie in Kolkata January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer