Monday, February 4, 2008


“Was any poet ever house-arrested by anybody?
There might be politics about a poet,
There might be violence and fire on account of her,
But nobody ever house-arrested her, no country ..”

-- Taslima Nasreen

Taslima Nasreen, the controversial Bangladeshi poet and writer, is in deep trouble. The government of India, which gave her asylum, has now dumped her in an undisclosed house in Delhi, ostensibly for safety reasons, but actually to appease the fundamentalists of a particular community for political gains. She has been barred from going outside her room and meeting any friends for past two months. She has just a laptop and a cell-phone, and a lizard on a wall as her company. The internment naturally takes its toll on her health, demoralizes her spirit, and disrupts her writing in a big way.

There have been protests, not many though, across India from writers like Mahasweta Devi and Arundhati Roy, ex-PM Indrakumar Gujral, ex-bureaucrat Muchkunda Dube and many others. But the Delhi government is unfazed as ever as if it’s not an issue at all. It does not give a damn about her health. When Taslima fell ill recently, a young doctor was dispatched to treat her. The doctor almost killed her by overprescibing. She had to be finally admitted into ICU, AIIMS, Delhi. But surprisingly, she was ferried back to her house from the hospital within six hours.

Taslima’s is a case of nasty human rights abuse. She is an internationally known writer, and whether you like it or not, she has her own conviction and deals with the real, hard things of life (religion being one of them) which few writers dare in these times. Why would she be interned at all, and this in a country which touts itself as the biggest democracy of the world? Is she a political activist? Is she a threat to India?

Poor Taslima! Her travails as a writer began years ago when she was hounded out of her own country Bangladesh by the fundamentalists. She had to leave for, and stay in Europe for a while before she made up her mind to base in secular India. She chose Kolkata, Bengal her second home. But the so-called Marxist government of Bengal didn’t put up with her for long, and they forced her out of Kolkata overnight in a savage manner. Delhi took charge of her now. One expected it would look into the much-heckled writer’s case sympathetically following in the tradition of great Indian democracy.

But it proves to be a travesty. The government at the centre just connives with the state government to shut her up in a more ghastly way. In fact, it wants Taslima to leave the country for ever. In Indian democracy, the value of minority votebank is more important than the dignity of a worthy writer!

As of now, Taslima is withering away day by day, and she loses her desire to live.
She works out her frustration in a poem recently written from the ‘safe house’ of Delhi.

“From now on, don’t speak the truth, Taslima
This is not the age of Galilio,
Even in this 21st century, you’re pushed aside for your truth
By the society, exiled off your country, house-arrested in another country…
Don’t speak the truth, Taslima.”

Courtesy: Dainik Statesman, Kolkata

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