Denying resident permit to Taslima shows BJP's double-speak

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Taslima Nasreen
The BJP is no more symphatic to exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen. The Narendra Modi-led Central Government on Wednesday cancelled the resident permit that was being re-issued to her as a matter of routine since 2004 and issued a temporary visa instead.

Taslima, who has been living in exile for several years after clerics in Bangladesh issued a fatwa against her, expressed surprise over Government's move.

"Indian govt has canceled (sic) my resident permit that I started getting since 2004. Issued a temp tourist visa for 2 months. Beyond my imagination," she tweeted.

According to reports, Taslima, currently residing in Delhi, had earlier tweeted that Home Ministry did not respond to her application for an extension of her resident visa early in June.

"I applied for the extension of my Indian resident permit a month ago. No answer from govt. Never happened before," Taslima tweeted on July, 26.

Taslima- controversy's favourite child

Taslima Nasreen was forced to quit her country of origin in 1994 for her controversial writings that were branded anti-Islamic and feminist in a nation largely dominated by the Muslims. Muslim extremists had called for her death following her most controversial book, "Lajja".

In 2002, the Bangladesh authorities banned her novel 'Wild Wind' saying that the book could lead to religious tensions. A magistrate's court in Bangladesh even granted her a one-year sentence on the charges that her books carry derogatory comments about Islam.

Since then, she had been living in exile and has lived in US, Europe and India in the last two decades.

Even in India, Taslima's work has been banned after Muslim groups lodged protest. In 2003, her autobiography "Dwikhondito" was banned by the Bengal Government. She has been threatened by Muslim groups outside Bengal many times. Muslim protesters attacked Taslima during a book launch in Andhra Pradesh.

BJP-ruled MP has granted citizenship to 5,400 illegal Bangladeshi migrants

Taslima who at several times expressed her wish to live in India permanently, had faced a similar situation in 2010, when then Government had refused to extend her resident permit.

BJP's double standards:

When not in power, the Bhartiya Janata Party had been demanding permanent residency or Indian citizenship for the Bangladeshi author. The BJP even questioned the UPA's intentions when it refused to renew her residence permit. The party alleged that Congress was bowing to fundamentalist forces who were seeking her expulsion from the country.

Taslima should be treated as a "political refugee in India with a right to live with dignity and security," the party said in a resolution in November, 2007.

But, now when it is in power, the BJP is showing reluctance to renew her resident permit. This clearly shows her double speak on the issue.

Moreover, Narendra Modi, during his election campaigning, had promised to help those who are being persecuted in Bangladesh. Taslima, who continues to face threats to her life from fundamentalist organisations in the country, is no different from those oppressed ones.

Given the ongoing political situtaion in Bangladesh which has witnessed a resurgence of fundamentalists in the recent few years, returning back to her country could threaten her life.

At a time when BJP-led Madhya Pradesh Government is rehabilitating over 5,000 Bangladeshis who belonged to the 'minority' community in the neighbouring country, the Center's decision not to renew Taslima's permit makes no sense. It seems both the Centre and Madhya Pradesh Government has different yardsticks to gauge Taslima's and Hindu's case. The development clearly highlights BJP's double speak which is offering permanant Indian citizenship to thousands of non-Muslim Bangladeshi immigrants but showing door to the persecuted author.

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