Taking a dig at a section of society crying hoarse of rising intolerance and mob lynching in India, the controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen living in exile in India has said that no country in the world is as liberal as India as far as freedom of speech is concerned.
“The constitution gives you human rights and freedom of speech. There has been a lot of criticism of the government which gets published, so how can I say there is no freedom of speech. I have seen many nations where there is no such freedom,” she said when asked about the notion in a section of society being called as pseudo seculars that there was a curtailment of freedom of speech.
“As far as mob violence is concerned, it is not staged by the government. Some anti-social elements do it and they should be punished strictly,” she added.
Taslima Nasreen was speaking to a news agency PTI on Monday reacting to the one-year extension of her residence permit in India. Expressing hope that the government will consider giving her either a longer permit or a permanent stay here, she said,” I am a daughter of this soil and even my cat is Indian which is living with me for 16 years. India is my home. It would have been better if I did not need to worry every year. There is also the option of issuing a residence permit for five or 10 years. I requested former home minister Rajnath Singh Ji for this in 2014 as I want to live in India for the rest of my life.”
She further said, “I am called a foreigner but I feel like the daughter of this soil. I hope, the govt. will reconsider giving me a permanent or longer resident permit. I have passed 25 years in exile, still, I have to worry every year about the ground beneath my feet. It affects my writing also.”
Bangladeshi writer added, “I am a European citizen but I left Europe and the U.S. to live here. I chose India over all other countries which offered me citizenship or permanent residence permit as I feel that India is more liberal than any other country in the world and Delhi is the only place in the subcontinent where I can live peacefully. I would have been very happy if I could live in East or West Bengal but now it is not possible. Now I want to live the rest of my life in Delhi.”
Last week, the writer was given a three months resident permit following which she made a request to the present home minister Amit Shah on Twitter to extend it for one year.
It is noteworthy that Taslima Nasreen had to flee Bangladesh after a death threat issued against her by fundamentalist Muslim clerics for her candid expressions about Islam citing it as “Blasphemy”. Salman Rushdie, the India born British writer had to suffer the same ordeal for his writings in his book, “The Satanic Verses”. He too had to go in hiding with heavy security arrangements to save his life from Muslim fundamentalists.