Sunday, November 25, 2007

It was only about Taslima: Idris Ali

Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, Nov. 22: Perhaps realising the protest against Taslima Nasreen’s visa extension would incite more passions than the “recapture” of Nandigram, Mr Idris Ali, president of All India Minority Forum today did an U-turn. He said yesterday’s protest was solely against Taslima Nasreen’s prolonged stay and not related to the Nandigram issue in any way, as was reported in the press.
Incidentally, the protestors had claimed yesterday that Nandigram was also one of the issues, apart from the controversial Bangladeshi writer.
“We have not mixed up issues as has been reported. We were not agitating against the violence in Nandigram, we were only protesting against the visa extension of Ms Taslima Nasreen as we strongly believe that she has no right to stay in this state,” Mr Ali said.
He met the Iman of Tipu Sultan Masjid, Syed Md Murur Rahman Barkati, this evening but refused to comment on whether they have planned any further protests. “We have not yet planned but will be discussing it over soon.”
Denying allegations that the forum was behind yesterday's violence, Mr Ali said, “We were protesting peacefully as planned but police arrested about 200 people in the morning, even before violence erupted.
The arrest in fact sparked off the violence.” He also added that police has booked the people on charges of rioting, unlawful assembly, attempt to murder, voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servants from duty, and causing damage.
Mr Ali said the blueprint of the movement submitted by the forum to the police had mentioned that peaceful agitation will be carried out only in the Park Circus area and not near KC Das as claimed by the city police chief. “We had about 60 representatives of the forum and were only confined to the Park Circus area as per our plan. We never said we will also be agitating near KC Das at Esplanade.”
He added, “Our men were not involved in the violence that spread to Moulali, Ripon Street-AJC Bose Road crossing, Dorina Crossing, Beniapukur, Taltala, Kareya, Entally, Park Street, Topsia, Park Street and Sundari Mohan Avenue.
“I do not know whether they were hoodlums or any group but they were not members of our forum.”
Mr Ali has filed a case against Mr Biman Bose, state Left Front chairman and Benoy Konar, senior CPI-M leader, for making derogatory comments about the High Court. He said if necessary steps are not taken against them, people will lose faith in the judicial system. He demanded urgent hearing of this case.
Asked if he has heard whether Taslima Nasreen has left the city, Mr Ali said, “I have no information in this regard. I have not heard anything so far.”