Cancelled my Kolkata trip after threat from Mamata: Rushdie

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

Kolkata, Feb 1: Controversial author Salman Rushdie today alleged that he was forced to cancel his trip to Kolkata after being threatened that he would be bundled out on the first flight by the police on orders from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The 65-year-old author issued a one page statement before flying out of the country. He also tweeted that the Kolkata police had made his visit to the city “impossible” and accused it of leaking his programme to the press and Muslim leaders “clearly inciting protests”.

“… The day before I was due to travel to Kolkata we were informed that the Kolkata police would refuse to allow me to enter the city. If I flew there, I was told, I would be put on the next plane back. I was also told that this was at the request of the Chief Minister,” Rushdie said in the statement.

Rushdie was to take part in the Kolkata Lit Meet as a surprise guest on January 30 to promote the movie adaptation of his novel ‘Midnight’s Children’ but the organisers later denied inviting the author.

“Let me be clear. I was indeed planning to take part in a session at the Kolkata Lit Meet along with the scheduled speakers Deepa Mehta, Rahul Bose, and Ruchir Joshi. The organizers were fully aware of this, and had asked me to appear as a “surprise guest”. If they now deny this, that is dishonest. They actually paid for my plane ticket,” Rushdie further said.

In his tweet, the Booker prize-winning author said, “The simple fact is that the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered the police to block my arrival. I did not get ‘friendly advice’ to stay away from Kolkata. I was told the police would put me on next plane out… The police gave my full itinerary to the press and called Muslim leaders, clearly inciting protests.”

Rushdie attended the premiere of ‘Midnight’s Children’ in Mumbai last night with the star cast of the film before leaving India.