No fundamentalist could do what India did to me: Taslima

March 21st, 2008 - 5:14 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Taslima Nasreen
By Sujoy Dhar
Kolkata, March 21 (IANS) Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, who left India for Europe after confinement in a “safe house” at New Delhi for nearly four months, slammed the Indian government for causing “harm that no fundamentalist could do”. In her first interview to media from a hospital somewhere in Europe, Taslima told IANS: “I cannot tell you where I am because for the first time the world thinks that I am a dangerous person, thanks to the Indian government which kept me in a lock up for nearly seven months.

“By keeping me confined for so long and trampling my human and democratic rights they could tell the world that I am dangerous and should be kept away from the mainstream society,” said Taslima, who is tipped to be in Sweden.

“I am more cautious now. But I am breathing now and feeling much better. I first could not even speak to my doctors because of the stress and shock in India.

“I was trembling as I spoke to the doctor. Then I slowly narrated to them and even told them not to tell me the nature of my ailments or the extent of damage to my heart since I am not yet ready to take any more shock,” she said.

“I want to stay away from shocking news,” she added.

“I still want to return to India. I am not sure if I would be allowed. I can lead a cosy tension-free life here anytime. But I am a secular humanist and a feminist and I have to write and work for the women there (in the subcontinent). The society there needs me. I have to work on social projects in India in the most backward places,” she said.

“Here I would live in a hotel. But my home is in Kolkata. I have to pay a huge rent there. I only hope I would return there one day,” Taslima said.

“I have no stress now. I am doing well,” she said but did not give the name or location of the hospital.

According to Swedish media, Taslima, who has left India complaining of ill treatment, is probably in Sweden.

Radio Sweden quoted Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter as saying it was “highly likely” that the controversial author is in Sweden but that security concerns have “gagged all her circle of contacts”.

The award-winning author, who is in Europe to seek medical care, has been in touch with Swedish Liberal Party MP Cecilia Wikstrom, the International Herald Tribune reported.

The Swedish news agency TT also said Taslima was in Sweden.

On Wednesday, an ailing Taslima finally left India for medical treatment abroad. Magsaysay winning social activist Mahasweta Devi dubbed her departure as a “shame” for India.

“I am at Heathrow airport now, waiting for a connecting flight,” Taslima had told a friend in Kolkata from London Wednesday night but did not give her destination from London.

The author was kept in a safe house in New Delhi since November-end after she was shunted out of Kolkata following unprecedented street violence over her stay in India and previous writings that criticise Islam and its treatment of women.

Mahasweta Devi, the 82-year-old activist and writer, told IANS: “It is a shame. The circumstances under which she left are reprehensible for a free and secular India.

“I read her email where she described her stay in New Delhi like living in a death chamber. I called her up and asked her to leave and get better treatment,” she said.

“West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee colluded to ensure that she was forced to leave India. It is a conspiracy in the name of Muslim votes.

“Is this independent India? It is a dangerous situation where a woman seeking asylum is put behind walls,” she said.

Earlier, Taslima had told IANS: “I can’t take it any more. I will die if I continue to live like this.”

“I am losing my eyesight, my heart is damaged. I have to survive. I am dying like this. I have to immediately get good treatment because I am not even getting cardiologists here,” she had said from her undisclosed address in New Delhi.

India’s external affairs ministry extended her visa in mid-February but restrictions on her movements continued.

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