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Mainstream Vol XLVI No 8

Letter to the Union Home Minister

Saturday 9 February 2008

Hon’ble Home Minister,

We, the undersigned, are highly concerned about the health and well being of Ms Taslima Nasreen who is for the last three months being kept in a virtual detention in a secret place in Delhi. We are equally concerned about the implications of the treatment being meted out to her, for the values of freedom, human rights and human dignity enshrined in the Indian Constitution and for the international image and prestige of India as a democratic state founded on the principles of fundamental freedom and secularism.

We have come to know that Ms Nasreen is not allowed to stir out of her house and no friend or acquaintance from outside is allowed to meet her. This depravation from leading a normal life has not only stifled her creative work but also aggravated her health problems. Last week inadequate medical attention and bungling by doctors arranged by the Government proved life threatening for her. The reasons being given by the West Bengal Government and the Central government for hounding her out from her residence in Kolkata and incarcerating her in Delhi is to ensure her personal security and prevent violation of public order. In our view, these reasons are unjustified and invalid. She led a normal life in Kolkata for well over three years and faced no threats to her security. We are convinced that if she is allowed to lead a normal life again, nobody will pose a threat to her life except some fringe extremist elements who must be dealt with by the government according to the law of the land. Similarly, there was not single instance of disturbance of public order during the three years period of her stay in Kolkata, due to anything that she said, did or wrote. Disturbances of public order in Hyderabad and Kolkata recently were engineered and stage-managed by politically motivated and misguided groups who also must be dealt with according to the law of the land.

Permitting the extremist elements and groups belonging to any community to indulge in violence, arson and destruction of property etc., for whatever the cause, amounts to a failure of governance with very serious implications. If this policy continues to be pursued, it will only encourage extremist elements to pose a threat to the social fabric, security, peace and stability in the country. It has the potentiality of culminating in the failure of the State as we have witnessed in our neighboured.

We, of course, have no objection to peaceful demonstrations for airing any grievance including those in protest against Ms Nasreen’s writings. The government must take such demonstrations in stride as every democracy does.

With highest regards,

Yours sincerely,

I.K. Gujral,
- Kuldip Nayar,
- Ashish Nandi,
- Debabrata Bandyopadhyay,
- Saifuddin Choudhury,
- Muchkund Dubey,
- Sumit Chakravartty

New Delhi
- January 30, 2008

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