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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 November 2007, 16:48 GMT
Writer leaves Calcutta after riot
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Taslima Nasreen
Ms Nasreen faced death threats in Bangladesh
Controversial Bangladeshi feminist writer Taslima Nasreen has been flown out of the Indian city of Calcutta after violent protests by Muslims.

On Wednesday, police used tear gas and baton charges to control crowds calling for her Indian visa to be cancelled.

Rioters blocked roads and set cars alight. At least 43 people were hurt. More than 100 arrests were made.

Critics say she called for the Koran to be changed to give women greater rights, something she denies.

Ms Nasreen fled Bangladesh in the early 1990s after death threats and has spent the last three years in Calcutta after a long stay in Europe.

'Initial grumbling'

Indian intelligence officials say Ms Nasreen was flown out of Calcutta in a special plane to Delhi from where she was taken to Jaipur in the western state of Rajasthan.

Soldiers on Calcutta's streets
Soldiers were called out on to the streets on Wednesday

"She was told that it was not safe for her to stay in Calcutta and she agreed to leave after some initial grumbling," said a senior intelligence official on condition of anonymity.

Taslima Nasreen's Indian visa is valid until March 2008. Wednesday's trouble in Calcutta began after the predominantly Muslim All-India Minority Forum called for blockades on major roads in the city.

The group said Ms Nasreen had "seriously hurt Muslim sentiments". Many Muslims say her writing ridicules Islam.

Police arrived in strength to disperse the demonstrators.

Violence then broke out in Ripon Street in the north of the city and spread to Park Circus, Moulali and many other areas of central Calcutta.

The army was called out. A night curfew imposed on Wednesday has now been lifted.

"The protesters started pelting policemen with brick bats and acid bottles in several places, so we can say the trouble making was planned and co-ordinated," Calcutta police chief Gautam Chakrabarty said.

Idris Ali, a senior leader of the Minority Forum, blamed West Bengal state's ruling Communists for the violence.

"They have infiltrated our ranks and sparked the violence. We wanted to protest peacefully but the Marxists are trying to discredit us," Mr Ali told the BBC.

The Marxists denied the charge. "We had no idea of their plans, they have planned the trouble, they must take the blame for this mayhem," Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Biman Bose said.

The All-India Minority Forum says Taslima Nasreen's Indian visa should be revoked and she should be forced to leave the country.

In August this year, she was attacked in the southern city of Hyderabad during a lecture by Muslims upset by her remarks on Prophet Muhammed and the Koran.

SEE ALSO
Calcutta calm after day of riots
22 Nov 07 |  South Asia
Army deployed after Calcutta riot
21 Nov 07 |  South Asia
Farmers and Marxists at loggerheads
16 Mar 07 |  South Asia
Violence marks Bengal shutdown
08 Jan 07 |  South Asia
Taslima Nasreen gets Indian visa
01 Sep 05 |  South Asia
'Bengal Maoists' target car plant
04 Dec 06 |  South Asia

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