Salman Rushdie Friday blamed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the cancellation of his visit to Kolkata, tweeting that she had told the police to stop him.
“The simple fact is that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered the police to block my arrival,” he tweeted. In another tweet, he rejected Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy’s statement about giving Rushdie “friendly advice” to avoid Kolkata. “Ridiculous, Saugata Roy. I did not get ‘friendly advice’... I was told the police would put me on next plane out,” he wrote.
The TMC contested Rushdie’s claims, though senior leader Sultan Ahmed added that they were happy the author was kept out.
“I don’t know if Mamata Banerjee was behind not allowing Rushdie to land in Kolkata but if she was... she has done the right thing. No one can write ill of our Prophet and get away with it. This is the land of Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore and Nazrul Islam. We do not need any ‘Shaitan’ Rushdie here,” he said.
Rushdie also contradicted the claims of Kolkata Literary Meet organisers that they didn’t invite him, saying he had got the invite and tickets by e-mail.
“The day before I was due to travel to Calcutta we were informed that the Calcutta police would refuse to allow me to enter the city,” his tweet said. “If I flew there, I was told, I would be put on the next plane back. I was also told that this was at the request of the chief minister.”
Tridib Chatterjee of the Publishers’ and Book Sellers’ Guild, organisers of the Kolkata International Book Fair, said: “No invitation was sent to Salman Rushdie and whatever he is saying is a lie.”
TMC MLA Iqbal Ahmed said, “But for her (Banerjee), there could have been communal tension... People like Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen should be kept away.”
“The simple fact is that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered the police to block my arrival... I was told the police would put me on next plane out.”