Wednesday, February 3, 1999 Published at 21:08 GMT
World: South Asia
Rushdie granted India visa
The Satanic Verses provoked a storm of controversy around the world
The author Salman Rushdie has been granted a visa to visit India, the first country to ban his controversial book, The Satanic Verses.
Mr Rushdie described the decision to give him a visa to visit India, the country of his birth, as great news. His lawyer collected the visa at the Indian High Commission in London on Wednesday.
'Hurt and humiliated'
He claimed that the then Indian Government had banned The Satanic Verses without reading it, that India had treated him with disdain, denying him access even to Indian Government buildings abroad.
India has been the setting for much of Mr Rushdie's writing and he has recently had ancestral property there restored to him which he plans to turn into an arts centre, although so far he has been unable to visit it.
His first visit could be within two or three months.
India has a sizeable Muslim minority of around 130 million, but the present Hindu nationalist-led government in Delhi has taken a different approach to Mr Rushdie from that of its predecessors.
Though the Iranian Government last year deemed the Salman Rushdie issue to be finished, some hardline groups have declared their resolve to pursue the fatwa.
The BBC's South Asia Correspondent Mike Wooldridge says Mr Rushdie's first visit to India since the eighties will be of much symbolic significance to him and a measure of how far he has now been able to put The Satanic Verses behind him.
There is no sign as yet that India plans to lift the ban on the book.