May 2006 News

'Rushdie is a courageous man'

8 May 2006
The Daily Times

New Delhi: Leader of the Indian Opposition in the Lok Sabha (Lower House) LK Advani on Monday praised Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie and his latest novel ‘Shalimar the Clown’, calling him a “courageous man”. At a photo exhibition organised by a Kashmiri pandits’ organisation on Monday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader read excerpts from Rushdie’s novel, saying that the author had shown “courage” in his narratives on unrest in Kashmir. The plot of the novel, woven around the Kashmir issue, has espoused the cause of an independent Kashmir and secession from India. Advani also demanded the inclusion of Kashmiri pandits in talks to restore peace in Jammu and Kashmir, and called the recent massacre in Doda a “national shame”. The exhibition showed photographs of Kashmiri pandits camping in refugee tents. “The photographs tell a powerful story, one of tragedy, which is a shame for our country. I compliment Pannun Kashmir (the photographer) for this exhibit,” Advani wrote in the visitors’ book. “This exhibition focuses not just on the exodus of Kashmiri pandits, but also depicts the destruction of a civilisation and a culture,” he said. Referring to Union Minority Affairs Minister AR Antulay’s proposal for granting minority status to Kashmiri pandits, Advani said that the Kashmiri pundits’ plight had to be addressed as an issue concerning humanity. “The question is not about a minority status. It’s about humanity. It should be taken up in that very light,” he told reporters, adding that there should be greater awareness regarding the suffering of Kashmiri pandits. “Nobody exactly denies the problem, but there is no discussion either in such a large country on the issue,” he said. He also referred to fears expressed by a leading national daily that the recent Doda massacre could be an attempt by Kashmiri militants to “take their anti-Hindu assaults beyond the Valley”.


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