Salman Rushdie stayed away from the Jaipur Literary Festival because of threats. So, defying the organizers of the festival, Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar read from The Satanic Verses, then Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi joined them.
And then what happened? According to Stephanie Nolen, South Asia correspondent for the Globe and Mail, who is at the festival and tweeting from and about it, the four writers are being investigated by the police. Since she tweeted that from the festival, it must mean that the cops were “investigating” the writers up close and personal, right then and there.
I get all this via the invaluable Salil Tripathi (#FF!), who said at Facebook about an hour ago:
Stephanie Nolen has tweeted that the authors who read from The Satanic Verses (Hari, Amitava, Ruchir, Jeet) are to be investigated by Rajasthan’s finest. Many of my friends reading this are in Jaipur, some as writers, some as participants. Overwhelm the cops; hope more and more of you read publicly from the novel, and shame the state further. Deoband and the state may have the muscle – the writers have truth, humour, and Gandhi on their side.
Go, writers. Rock the world. Push back.
Subir Ghosh reports a press release that he got from Kavita K Bhaskaran, Senior Vice President, Sampark, the PR agency running the Jaipur festival:
This press release is being issued on behalf of the organizers of the Jaipur Literature Festival. It has come to their attention that certain delegates acted in a manner during their sessions today which were without the prior knowledge or consent of the organizers. Any views expressed or actions taken by these delegates are in no manner endorsed by the Jaipur Literature Festival. Any comments made by the delegates reflect their personal, individual views and are not endorsed by the Festival or attributable to its organizers or anyone acting on their behalf. The Festival organizers are fully committed to ensuring compliance of all prevailing laws and will continue to offer their fullest cooperation to prevent any legal violation of any kind. Any action by any delegate or anyone else involved with the Festival that in any manner falls foul of the law will not be tolerated and all necessary, consequential action will be taken. Our endeavor has always been to provide a platform to foster an exchange of ideas and the love of literature, strictly within the four corners of the law. We remain committed to this objective.
So much for solidarity in defense of free expression.