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Taslima roughed up in Hyderabad

Special Correspondent


MIM legislators held, freed

Rajasekhara Reddy condemns attack


PHOTO: AFP

ASSAULT ON FREEDOM: Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen activists trying to attack Bangladeshi novelist Taslima Nasrin at the Hyderabad Press Club on Thursday. —

HYDERABAD: Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin was roughed up by legislators of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) and a mob led by them in the Press Club of Hyderabad on Thursday.

The feminist writer and author of several novels — including “Lajja” which was about the treatment of Hindus by Muslims in Bangladesh — was here on a visit to launch the translated versions of her works at a press conference. She had just completed her engagement when about 20 MIM activists, led by MLAs Syed Ahmed Pasha Qadri, Afsar Khan and Moazzam Khan, barged into the conference hall.

She looked in disbelief as they hurled abuses against her. Demanding to know “who had mustered the guts to invite her to Hyderabad, they wanted Ms. Nasrin to be handed over to them.

Without further warning, they began throwing books, bouquets, chairs, and whatever they could lay their hands on at her. Some persons in the mob almost got hold of her but Narisetti Innaiah, rationalist and chairman of the Center for Inquiry, who was her host, shielded her. He was injured in his face. A couple of journalists who went to their rescue also sustained injuries in the scuffle.

Ms. Nasrin escaped unhurt though she was badly shaken by the sudden attack that came minutes after she made a categorical statement that she would continue to fight against evil “till my death”.

She said that she was not afraid of the fatwas issued by fundamentalist and extremist elements.

She had earlier released the Telugu version of her work “Shodh” translated by V. Komala, Dr. Innaiah’s wife, and Jung Chang’s bestseller “Wild Swans,” a book proscribed in China.

Repeated requests by the journalists and the organisers to the MIM men to leave the place went unheeded. They broke the glass door of the conference hall where Ms. Nasrin was taking shelter, protected by the organisers and some press photographers. The protesters raised slogans against Ms. Nasrin.

The police, who intervened at this stage, arrested the MLAs and their supporters. Ms. Nasrin was then escorted out of the hall by police and moved to an undisclosed location in the city. She left for Kolkata by air later.

The MIM MLAs were charged with rioting, trespass, criminal intimidation, causing hurt and unlawful assembly. They were produced before a magistrate who released them on bail.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy condemned the attack and said stern action would be taken.

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