Indian supporters blast failure to renew exiled writer's resident permit

After years in exile, Bangladeshi writer's renewal permit is refused by India

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 6:14am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 6:14am

Indian supporters of exiled Bangladeshi poet and novelist Taslima Nasrin have taken to social media demanding a long-term Indian residency for the author, after the Indian government refused to renew her residence permit.

Nasrin had fled her country in 1994 after some Muslim groups there declared some of her writings were sacrilegious and issued death threats. She spent 10 years in Europe and the United States before moving in 2004 to India, where the people of West Bengal state speak Bengali, the language in which she writes.

Along with many writers and intellectuals, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was then in opposition, had supported her stay in India.

Her year-long residence permit was regularly renewed.

But after the author applied in June for the renewal of her permit, India's Home Ministry under the new BJP government instead issued her a two-month tourist visa last week.

A Home Ministry official said on Friday that the resident-permit application of Nasrin, 51, was under scrutiny.

The author, who holds Swedish citizenship, has said she wants to live in India permanently. But she said she feared that the new government was not keen to let her live there.

"When the Narendra Modi-led government came to power I hoped that my new resident permit would be five years long. I could never imagine that this government would refuse to issue a resident permit to me," she told a Calcutta newspaper.

Nasrin's supporters have gone public, demanding that she be given a long-term resident permit.

"Taslima [Nasrin] was hounded by bigots for years. This nonsense was tolerated for fear of losing Muslim vote bank. Time has come to stop this," former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju said in a tweet.

Many have directly attacked the BJP for refusing to issue her the resident permit. They claim the party is attempting to woo the Muslim community.

"When not in power, the Bhartiya Janata Party had been demanding permanent residency or Indian citizenship for the Bangladeshi author ... But, now when it is in power, the BJP is showing reluctance to renew her resident permit.

"This clearly shows the party's doublespeak," said Delhi-based analyst Pravin Singh.

Calcutta-based author Bani Basu said Nasrin was a victim of injustice again.