Mumbai-born author Salman Rushdie has has questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "silence" and that of institutions like the Sahitya Akademi whom he has charged with permitting a new "degree of thuggish violence" in India.
He was speaking exclusively on NDTV's The Buck Stops Here from London, which will be telecast on NDTV on Tuesday night at 9 p.m.
Rushdie has also weighed in heavily on the side of the writers who have questioned the rising Hindutva wave of intolerance in the country and given up their Sahitya Akademi and other awards to make their voices heard.
Rushdie has questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "silence" and that of institutions like the Sahitya Akademi is permitting a new "degree of thuggish violence" in India. He was speaking exclusively on NDTV's The Buck Stops Here from London which will be telecast on NDTV on Tuesday night at 9 p.m.
According to the report, Rushdie said, "There are attacks on ordinary liberties, the ordinary right of assembly, the ordinary right to organize an event in which people can talk about books and ideas freely and without hostility, that seems to be in real grave danger in India today."
Rushdie, who had an fatwa issued against him including a death threat for penning his book 'The Satanic Verses', banned in India by the Congress government headed by Rajiv Gandhi to appease the Muslim community, feels that something dangerous is emerging in India. Rushdie had to take up the pseudonym of Joseph Anton and go into hiding to survive the threat from Islamic fundamentalists.
In his interview, he makes it clear that he is unwilling to take sides between the Congress and the BJP. "I am not a fan of any political party. I don't support either side of this argument. Obviously, when 'The Satanic Verses' was banned, it was banned by the Congress of Rajiv Gandhi and then, there was the episode of Jaipur which was the last time we had to talk like this by long distance. And of course, I am not any kind of fan of that. But I think what's crept into Indian life now is a degree of thuggish violence which is new. And it seems to be, I have to say, given permission by the silence of official bodies, by the silence of the Sahitya Akademi which is what so many of the writers are protesting about, by the silence of the Prime Minister's Office. Mr Modi is a very talkative gentleman, he has a lot to say on a lot of subjects and it would be very good to hear what he has to say about all this," NDTV reports.
Rushdie also condemned the smearing with black paint of BJP thinker Sudheendra Kulkarni, also a close aide of BJP leader and former Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani ,on Monday, 12 October, in Mumbai by alleged goons of the Shiv Sena who were protesting his being involved with the release of a book written by a Pakistani diplomat.
He also said that he stood in solidarity with writer Nayantara Sahgal and all other writers who had returned their Sahitya Akademi awards to protest the growing attacks on intellectural and other liberties and human rights.
"I made a tweet supporting Nayantara Sahgal and many of the other writers who have protested against these recent terrible events in India. And no sooner had I said it that 10,000 hateful tweets were aimed at me and are still going on. So it's something that unfortunately is happening in India too much right now," Rushdie said in his interview.
"I support Nayantara Sahgal and the many other writers protesting to the Sahitya Akademi. Alarming times for free expression in India," Rushdie tweeted.