Taslima Whips Up Storm in Nepal's Literary Cup

Kathmandu, Aug 22 (IANS): Exiled Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin has willy-nilly whipped up a storm in Nepal, with a comment on social networking site Twitter that was interpreted by some as casting doubts on the republic's sovereignty.

The 48-year-old controversial author, whose books have been banned in Bangladesh forcing her to go into exile since 1994, had been invited to Nepal to attend its first-ever literary festival held in Kathmandu valley from Friday to Sunday.

Taslima was to have released an English translation of one of her books at the Ncell Literature Festival, also attended by former BBC chief in India, Mark Tully, on Saturday.

However, she missed the flight from New Delhi, where she currently resides, as she had left her passport at home by mistake.

By way of an apology, the maverick writer wrote on her Twitter page: "My Nepali friends, I missed my flight to go to Kathmandu today. I forgot to bring my passport as I didn't consider Nepal a foreign country!"

The comment provoked angry retaliation from several Internet users who lambasted her for her "ignorance".

"Controversial author Taslima Nasrin doesn't know Nepal is a country in itself," commented an online forum, Nepali.im, while a logger, identifying himself only as Balbahadur, wondered acidly "what else she is ignorant about".

"Taslima Nasrin, the author of bestseller novel 'Shame', could not come to Kathmandu Saturday because she did not carry her passport thinking Nepal was part of India," Nepali portal nepal-news.com reported.

One of the organisers of the festival, author Ajit Baral, said the comment had been blown out of proportion and that she had apologised in her subsequent telephone conversation, saying she did not mean to offend Nepalis.

Nevertheless, keeping security concerns in mind, Taslima was asked by the organisers not to take the next flight to Kathmandu Sunday.

A chastened Taslima sent out a tweet once more, correcting her error.

She said she considered no country a foreign country. "(The) world is ours and we are one," she wrote.


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