BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Thursday, 22 September 2005, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
Indian state lifts ban on writer
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Taslima Nasreen
The judge said the ban was 'unjustified and untenable'
A court in the Indian state of West Bengal has lifted a ban on the autobiography of exiled Bangladeshi feminist author Taslima Nasreen.

The state government had imposed a ban on her latest book "Dwikhondito" (split into two) because it said the book offended Muslim sentiments.

Ms Nasreen left Bangladesh in 1994 for Sweden. She received a year-long Indian visa earlier this month.

Muslims constitute nearly one-fifth of West Bengal's population.

"It is a great day for us," Ms Nasreen's lawyer, Joymalyo Bagchi, told the BBC.

"We fought the government and it was a tough battle but I don't think they will give up so easily."

We were victims of state censorship
Publisher Proshanto Ray
Ms Nasreen's publisher in Calcutta, Peoples Book House, said it looked forward to the immediate release of all copies of "Dwikhondito" by the government that were seized after the ban was imposed.

'State censorship'

"We want to start selling the book straight away," said Proshanto Ray, who owns the publishing firm.

"We were victims of state censorship."

The Calcutta High Court, ruling in response to a petition by the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, said the ban on Taslima Nasreen's "Dwikhandito" (Split into Two) by leftist-ruled West Bengal state in 2003 was "unjustified and untenable".

The court also ordered the state government to return all confiscated copies of the book to the publishers and sellers.

"The judges said the book is an autobiography and does not in any way hurt or cause injury to any citizen of India," said Nasreen's lawyer, Joymalya Bagchi.

Ms Nasreen, a doctor-turned-writer, fled her home country Bangladesh in 1994 after Muslim extremists called for her death following her most controversial book, "Lajja" (Shame).

This is not my victory alone but a victory for the freedom of expression
Taslima Nasreen
The book was banned for offending Muslim religious sentiments.

After living in exile in Sweden, the United States and Germany she moved to Calcutta and has applied for Indian citizenship.

"This is not my victory alone but a victory for the freedom of expression. It proves India has rule of law," Nasreen said after the verdict.

But police officials say they fear furious protests by hardline Muslims in Calcutta and in the rest of Bengal.

"We have to increase her security detail," a senior police official said.

Earlier this year, they managed to force the state government to cancel a convention in Bengal's southern town of Midnapore which Ms Nasreen was to address.

Taslima Nasreen gets Indian visa
01 Sep 05 |  South Asia
Writers support Taslima Nasreen
07 Apr 05 |  South Asia
Effigies of writer burned
21 Jan 04 |  South Asia
Bangladesh court sentences Taslima
13 Oct 02 |  South Asia
Bangladesh bans third Taslima book
27 Aug 02 |  South Asia

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific