“Can anybody live like this?”

Despite the extension of her visa, novelist Taslima Nasrin remains confined to a room in an undisclosed location, writes Sanal Edamaruku

Taslima Nasrin

The good news first: India has granted a visa extension to exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin. For now, the nightmare of an ill and desperate Taslima being forcefully expelled from her adoptive home of seven years. “All I want to do is live peacefully in this country. I have nowhere else to go,” Taslima recently wrote. When the showdown began and time was running out, Rationalist International started an international campaign and appealed to the prime minister of India. Within three days, our appeal had been supported by more than 3,800 letters from India, USA, Canada, Australia and all over Europe. The Forum for the Protection of Free Speech and Expression, led by Mahashweta Devi, Arundhati Roy, Ashish Nandy and Girish Karnad published an open letter to the prime minister, supported by many writers and intellectuals. Under public pressure, the government of India allowed her to stay.

The success, however, is tarnished. Now comes the bad news. While staying in India, Taslima Nasrin’s life will — according to a statement from the foreign ministry — be restricted to the “status quo”. And that is what horrifies her. The “status quo” describes a rather inhuman situation. For nearly three months now, the government of India has kept Taslima in complete isolation at an undisclosed location near Delhi. Nobody, not even she herself, knows her exact whereabouts. Guarded by officials, she has not even been allowed to meet close friends. Her only connections to the outer world are her mobile phone and laptop.