I was somewhat amused to learn that Tasleema Nasreen's "Dwikhandita" --third volume of her autobiography --had been banned by Bengal Government. The charge against her book was that it contained some hard remarks, amounting to blasphemy, about prophet Mohammad and holy Quran, and that it could foment communal tension in a land truly famous for its communal amity.
On the face of it, the action could not be more justified. But there are more things to it than you know about it.
To begin with, Tasleema is too known for her anti-Islamic views and writings, and she has been circulating them even before she had been exiled from her country a few years ago. In the current book she wrote what she usually writes, and in that light nothing new or extra-ordinary. So, what was it that stung the government this time?
It was the pressure from the Muslims who formed a large chunk of the Marxist votebank. Some Muslim intellectuals raised a hue and cry, and the government acted too fast to respond to their demand without considering any other thing.
It was quite in line with my assumption that none of our writers and intellectuals except novelist Budhadev Guha and columnist Sunanda Sanyal protested the ban. Some of them even came out in the open to support and hail it.
Poor fellows! They have a stake here this time. In the final phase of her autobiography, Tasleema is now writing about her relationship with them, and in her no-holds-barred account she has spared nobody, however mighty or popular. She will write more about them in her last volume. Our Bengali writers, basic hypocrites as they are, don't exactly like the idea and have now united to control the damage to their public image. Somehow they twisted the Tasleema issue to give it a communal colour, and cried hoarse to instigate the minority community to demand the ban of the book.
But why do I feel amused? For one thing, it has exposed once again our kowtowing writers and poets. Secondly, the ban will trigger more curiosity and interest in Tasleema's book and more people will read the book, and thus the ostentatious purpose of the ban will be defied.
Publishers of the pirate copies of books are no doubt working overtime now to bring in the book to the market.