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Taslima at loss to understand ‘delay’ in her residence permit

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Exiled Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen today said she was at “her wit’s end” to find out the reasons for the “delay” by the Indian government in taking a decision on extending her residence permit.

“It’s really a big puzzle to me why there is such an unprecedented delay in renewing my residence permit. I’m at my wit’s end. It has never happened before since I moved to India in the year 2004. Every year, my permit used to be cleared before August 17, the day on which it expires,” Taslima told PTI.

She said she was yet to get a response to her efforts to seek an appointment with Home Minister Rajnath Singh despite two reminders.

Asked what she thought could be the reasons for the “delay” in deciding on her plea for extending the residence permit, Taslima said, “I am unable to understand.”

Responding to a question if her residence permit issue could be used in coming Bihar assembly elections, the author, whose many works have drawn the ire of radical Muslim groups over the years, said she did not think it would become a political or electoral issue in India.

In this context, she said the then CPI(M)-led Left Front government of West Bengal had just before panchayat polls expelled her from the state in 2007 “but it did not help CPI(M) gain additional Muslim votes or even in subsequent elections before being voted out in May, 2011.”

“Ordinary Muslims in India are not at all concerned if I am in or out of India. So banning my book or expelling me does not bring extra votes of Muslims,” Taslima said, adding “I don’t believe any other party will repeat the mistake of CPI(M).”

She said all that she wants from the government is to allow her to stay in this country, one of whose languages “is my mother tongue and I write in it.”

Taslima, living in exile since she sneaked out of Bangladesh in the wake of threats to her by fundamentalist groups, was given one-year visa by the government in 2014.

She has been getting Indian visa on a continuous basis since 2004. She now stays in a posh South Delhi locality.

On many occasions in the past also, she had expressed her desire to live in India permanently, especially in Kolkata.