Rajiv government’s decision to ban Rushdie’s book was justified, taken on public order grounds: Natwar Singh

By PTI STI (Update)


Focusing on Rushdie’s book following the attack on it in New York, K Natwar Singh, who was Minister of State for External Affairs when ‘The Satanic Verses’ book was banned in 1988, said that was part of the decision and told the then prime minister that the book could cause serious public order problems as feelings were running high.

K Natwar Singh, who was Union Minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s government which banned Salman Rushdie’s controversial book ‘The Satanic Verses’, strongly defended the decision on Saturday, saying it was taken ‘purely’ for reasons of public order.

Focusing on Rushdie’s book following the attack on it in New York, Singh, who was Minister of State for External Affairs when the book was banned in 1988, said it was part of the decision and had told the then Prime Minister Minister, the book could cause serious public order problems because feelings were very high.

Singh (91) dismissed as “garbage” critics’ accusation that the Rajiv Gandhi government’s decision to ban the book was motivated by appeasement of Muslims. “I don’t think it (the decision to ban the book) was wrong, because you see it led to law and order issues, especially in Kashmir. In other parts of India, there was concern as well,” Singh told PTI.

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“Rajiv Gandhi asked me what to do. a book by a great writer like Rushdie should be banned,'” the diplomat said. -turned politician said.

Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children” is one of the great novels of the 20th century, but the decision to ban “The Satanic Verses” was made purely for public policy reasons, Singh claimed.

A massive controversy had erupted after the release of the book “The Satanic Verses” as many Muslims considered it blasphemous. Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini had issued a fatwa against Rushdie and called for his death. Strongly defending the decision of Rajiv Gandhi’s government, Singh said, “I totally think it was justified as it was going to cause serious public order issues as feelings were very high especially among our Muslim population.”

“I said, ‘Everyone Muslim is going to burn, we have a large number of Muslims and apart from that, what the book contains at this time is not acceptable'”, a- he recounted.

Rushdie, who faced death threats for years after writing ‘The Satanic Verses,’ was stabbed onstage Friday while performing at the Chautauqua Institution event in western New York . New York State Police have identified the suspect as Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, while the motive for the act is still unknown. The suspect ran onto the stage before the speech and attacked the 75-year-old. The author was rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent surgery.

Singh said he was “very upset” by the attack. “Here is a 75-year-old man, who does no harm and contributes to literature, then a rascal comes along and almost kills him, and that too while he was giving a speech in New York,” he said. he declares. Singh said Rushdie left England for the simple reason that there were more Muslims in the UK than there were in America.

“There is no doubt that he is one of the great writers of the 20th century. So I am very saddened. I did not know him personally but I admired his Midnight Children, I have read it several times, it is high-class literature.” he said, praising Rushdie for his contribution to the world of literature.


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