Thursday, January 17, 2008


Siddhartha Shankar Ray, a one-man demolition squad [he single handedly demolished the Congress party in West Bengal in the mid seventies] and a loose cannon to boot, has suddenly woken up to the mischief wrought by Tasleema Nasreen. In his article in today’s Statesman ‘Let’s put a stop to this infantile affair’ he harps on forgiveness being an integral part of Muslim life. One is tempted to ask him how much forgiveness was shown by the most colourful man in Islam, Haroon Rashid, the Caliph of Baghdad to his brother-in-law Zafar the Barmiki? How much mercy did the Grand Moghul show to the courtesan Anarkali?

Tasleema to the best of my knowledge did not blasphemise on Indian soil. Whatever she has written was done elsewhere. It really pains me how Mr. Ray, an accomplished Barrister, has come to the conclusion ‘that in order to seek forgiveness on her pert, she ordered on her own the expurgation of three pages of her book.’ Is he so na├»ve that he sincerely believes that Tasleema did the expurgation on her own and that there was no coercion?

We all know what happened on 21st November 2007 at Park Circus Kolkata, a shameless show of strength by a section of Kolkata’s population, with the police remaining a pathetic onlooker. The saga of Tasleema’s ordeal, being forsaken by most of her trusted friends and being shifted from one place to another, is still fresh in our memory. Do you by any stretch of imagination call this voluntary action?
Has Siddhartha Shankar Ray, the wily fox, an ulterior axe to grind?

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