Next month marks an odd anniversary in India – it will be 21 years that Salman Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses" has been banned in India. The book – considered offensive by many Muslims – was published in 1988. Rushdie has since had a fatwa pronounced on him, gone into hiding, and re-emerged. Yet you still can't buy his book in Mumbai.
It's a "shameful" anniversary, writes Indian journalist and literary critic Nilanjana S. Roy in India's "Business Standard". It was on Oct. 15, 1988, she points out that, "the Indian government banned all imports of the book under the Customs Act, after two MPs went to Rajiv Gandhi and said that the 'Verses' would create a law-and-order situation."
It's time to rethink the ban, Roy argues. "The fear expressed by ministry officials in 1988 was not that the book itself was inflammatory," she writes. "[I]t was that passages from the book might be misused by other forces. You might want to ask the Indian state whether it has learned nothing of how to protect itself against these other forces in the last 20 years."