Govt cautions Taslima against indulging in ''hurtful'' activity

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New Delhi, Nov 29 (UNI) Defending its decision to provide shelter and protection to Taslima Nasreen in India, the government today cautioned the controversial Bangladeshi writer against indulging in any activity that hurt the sentiments of Indians or adversely affected New Delhi's friendly relations with other countries.

Making clarifications on a statement read out in the Rajya Sabha yesterday, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Upper House that Ms Nasreen's visa had been extended till February 2008, which was in tune with the country's civilisational heritage and national policy.

He, however, made it amply clear that Ms Nasreen, like all those who had been granted shelter in India, would ''eschew political activities...actions which may harm India's relations with friendly countries and refrain from activities and expressions that may hurt the sentiments of our people.'' Strongly condemning those making attempts to denigrate Islam, he said there were adequate provisions in the legal system to deal with the problem.

''If someone tries to disrespect islam, it will be rejected...Law is not helpless in this regard,'' he said.

Mr Mukherjee also pointed out that the right to expression is not an untrammelled proposition as it can be subjected to reasonable restrictions.

Yesterday, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma had read out the statement in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

Mr Mukherjee said in line with the civilisational heritage of India, which is ''now government policy'', India would provide shelter to Ms Nasreen.

Referring to the considerable public attention on the issue, he said the Bangladeshi writer had been in India for sometime.

''Throughout our history, India has never refused shelter to those who have come and sought our protection. This civilisational heritage, which is now government policy, will continue and India will provide shelter to Ms Nasreen.'' ''Those who have been granted shelter here have always undertaken to eshcew political activities in India or any actions which may harm India's relations with friendly countries. It is also expected that the guests will refran from activities and expressions that may hurt the sentiments of our people,'' the minister said.

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