Wil he? Won't he? Will he? Won't he? No, author Salman Rushdie will not be attending the Jaipur Literary Festival after it emerged that there may be a threat to his life. In a statement released by his representatives in India, Rushdie confirmed that he would not be attending the festival as he had been told that 'paid assassins' were on their way to Jaipur in a quest for him.
“I have now been informed by intelligence sources in Maharashtra and Rajasthan that paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld may be on their way to Jaipur to “eliminate” me,” the statement said.
Members of the Mumbai Underworld, a predominantly Muslim based membership, have threatened Rushdie's life before for his controversial novel 'The Satanic Versus'.
Rushdie added “It would be irresponsible of me to come to the Festival in such circumstances; irresponsible to my family, to the festival audience, and to my fellow writers. I will therefore not travel to Jaipur as planned.”
Rushdie’s novel was banned by India, but is still widely available on the streets of India with thousands of booksellers selling cheap photocopied versions. The had sparked outrage in the Muslim world, and a fatwa against him by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, was pronounced on 14 February 1989, putting Rushdie's life in danger.
Sanjoy Roy, an organiser of the festival, told First Post Politics that the attitude of people towards Rushdie was a huge problem for Indian democracy.