'Taslima's surrender on 'Dwikhandito' great set back'

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New Delhi, Dec 9: Exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen's decision to delete the ''offending'' passages from her book 'Dwikhandito'(Split into two), in fact, does not end the matter but raises some very serious questions regarding the future of artistic expression and individual space in the country, feel some intellectuals and cultural analysts.

Professor of Art History in Jawaharlal Nehru University Dr Parul Dave said the whole episode was unfortunate. ''This censorship on works of literature and art was going to have no end, and those who were feeling relieved over Taslima being made to modify her book, do not realise the gravity of the issues involved,'' she said.

''One may totally disagree with and condemn what Taslima has written, but has no authority to curtail her right to live without fear,'' she added.

Though differing in their ideological and intellectual moorings, scholar Prof Bharat Gupt, and writer Sujit Datta have both come out strongly against the curbs on Taslima's voice.

They have expressed surprise over what they call ''the stunning silence'' of intellectuals and women rights champions of the country on the threat to Taslima's life and the suppression of her works.

While Mr Datta finds the root cause of the civil society's opposition to Taslima in her assertion of female sexuality sans patriarchal control, Prof Gupt sees the whole episode just as an opportunist surrender to orthodox religious forces.

''The intellectuals in our country can support the cause of women's liberation only up to a certain extent. As soon they find any woman asserting her right over her body, her sexuality, they desert her cause,'' said Mr Datta, a Freudian.

This is something for which CPI(M) government in West Bengal did not have guts to digest, he said.

''Tomorrow, anybody can term any writing or work of art as one that hurts sentiments of others. Then, should we put a lid on all new ideas and interpretations?'' asked Mr Datta.

Prof Gupt said the official handling of the issue, both in West Bengal and at the Centre, showed how the legislative class in India had succeeded in stiffling a lone but genuine voice that has shown the courage to speak out for women, Muslim women in particular.

''She may be an atheist, but she has correctly pointed out that religious orthodoxy of any sect does turn into horrible crimes against women. She has not woven a story but written things based on eye-witness accounts what happened at the birth of Bangladesh,'' he said.


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