Weep for Taslima, and then for India

I was born in India. Most of the time I am quite content that the land of my birth is not a hell-hole. But every now and then I am rudely awakened to the fact that to a very large extent, it is ruled by a bunch of slaves, criminals and myopic morons. I read Taslima Nasreen’s heartfelt question “What is my crime?” with rising disgust and distaste for what India appears to be at times — a pathetic Third-world country with the morals of a bottom-dwelling creature and the ethics of pond-scum. Read the whole thing by Taslima and weep — a bit for Taslima but a lot for Mother India. Here’s just the last bit.

India is a vast country. From the beginning of history, innumerable people ended up in this cul de sac. Some have visited and then left, others have stayed, sending their roots firmly down. India has always warmly embraced every stranger, people of different colours, languages, religions, ethnicity and opinions. The door was ever open to an outsider. With hundreds of languages and cultures, India is unique in its generosity to the stranger. So why is there no place for me?

I’ve never asked for political asylum from India. All I want is to be able to live here. I might breathe in a distant land somewhere, but my heart is in Bengal. So why is my appeal to live here dealt with politically? Some argue that if India were to grant me citizenship, then her relationship with Bangladesh would worsen. As if I were a common criminal wanted back home that India is harbouring! Fact is, Bangladesh doesn’t want me.So if India gives me a home, why should it concern Bangladesh at all? When I stay in Europe and America, does it worsen their relationship with Bangladesh? Instead, I imagine Bangladesh heaving a sigh of relief if India grants me shelter, like going to an aunt after fighting with your mother.

I can’t help recalling those days when authors from the West joined together to save me. They not only put pressure on their own governments but also prevailed on the European Union to save a writer from oblivion. It was thanks to their efforts that governments in the West were compelled to save me from being hanged. Then followed a kind of tug-of-war between various countries. Norway, Sweden, Germany, everyone wanted me to live with them. Granting me residency or even citizenship was a prestige issue for them: it would ensure them fame.

I don’t know who decides whether or not I stay in West Bengal. Some say the government wants to please the Muslims. Some say it’s the intellectuals who’re afraid, or jealous. Did West Bengal ever love me? Yes, she did. Annadasankar Roy, a famous free thinker, once said affectionately that “Bangladesh is Taslima’s mother and West Bengal her aunt”. When I talked of women’s rights, I got a hard kick from Bangladesh and a kiss from West Bengal. Actually it’s not the country which kicks or kisses, but the people. I have noticed that the number of secular and rational people here is far more than in Bangladesh.

And just as I love East Bengal, return again and again at its door even when I’ve been thrown out, just so do I love and return here to West Bengal.

Author: Atanu Dey


12 thoughts on “Weep for Taslima, and then for India”

  1. This issue is lying there for soooo long. India government just increasing her visa by 6 months rather than giving her a citizenship.

    It is petty vote bank politics as UPA is afraid of losing muslim votebank by giving citizenship to Taslima.


  2. sometimes it makes me wonder , if there were no religions ,,,,wat problems we wuld have ,,,it wuld be very utopian world …cause all conflicts ..do seem toi have religious overtones somewhere embedded in them !


  3. One expects the almighty Govt. of India and her keepers to exploit Taslima’s plight; But why are the keepers [Arundhati Roy et al] of India’s “conscience” quiet on this topic.
    Could it be because, gasp, she is not a light skinned Kashmiri Muslim?
    Hmmmm, I wonder?


  4. Atanu,
    From a practical point of view,to put pressure on the govt some intellectual in India (Bong or otherwise)must contact Amnesty International and send petitions to all over europe; we are ready to sign if the first step is taken and hopefully (or unfortunately) petitions from west would have more effect


  5. Im sorry to say Atanu, but its best you desensitize yourself to things like these. You will uncover more and more madness and might even fly off the handle. In case you missed it, our prestigious All India Muslim Personal Law Board chairman said she should be thrown out of the country. No secular brouhaha of course. Its best not to depress oneself with things one can’t change. Keep your RISC crusade on, its at least influencing the next generations.


  6. Why should she be given residency I have tried to read her works and i had to put it down as it was trite
    She is no Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
    Since such decisions are political so my take is there is no benefit.
    Consider the precedence in india where rushdie was denied visa, there was one reason (his move to karachi that would have been a valid reason, But it was his satanic verses that was the reason)
    Tenzing Tsondues legal status is in question in india? Is he a citizen or not.
    Talsima is a third rate small fish in this game, one that I dont find much sympathy for.


  7. I understand our politicians dont have the balls to piss off the muslim community by granting her citizenship.

    But then, there must be millions of immigrants in India from Bangladesh and other countries, who are worse than us. Can India give citizenship to all of them ? If not then isnt that hypocrisy.

    If this womans claim for Indian citizenship is based only on the reasons that her life is endangered because of some lunatics in their home lands, I guess the millions of immigrants can claim that there life is endangered by extreme poverty and hunger in their home lands. But if she shows that she can contribute to our society in ways that all others can not, she may deserve it.


  8. Dear Anonymous
    Teri chaddi mein knot kyon pad gayi?
    What part didnt make sense, I wrote my reasons why talsima shouldnt be given permission to stay citing real precidents and political reason.


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