The front page of Saptahika Prabha, the weekly magazine section of the Kannada daily Kannada Prabha of the New Indian Express group, carrying the controversial piece on the burqa by Taslima Nasrin, which led to protests and riots in Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa‘s hometown, Shimoga, killing two people on Monday.
The story titled Purdah hai purdah begins on page one of the section with the clarion call “Come, let’s discuss the burqa once again” and spills over to page 5, occupying nearly half the broadsheet page. The article states upfront that it has been translated from the original English by “Sindhu” but does not mention the source.
The controversial Bangladeshi author has since clarified that she did not write for the Kannada daily. Meaning: her 2007 essay had been used without permission either from her website or from Outlook magazine where the essay originally appeared, a common even if questionable practice in most language publications.
“The incident that occurred in Karnataka on Monday shocked me. I learned that it was provoked by an article written by me that appeared in a Karnataka newspaper. But I have never written any article for any Karnataka newspaper in my life,” Nasrin said.
“The appearance of the article is atrocious. In any of my writings I have never mentioned that Prophet Muhammad was against burkha. Therefore this is a distorted story.”
The chief minister said an FIR had been filed against the publisher of the newspaper after which the paper expressed regret (below) for publishing the article. Stunningly, the death of two persons in riots caused by the newspaper article found no mention on the front page of Tuesday’s Kannada Prabha; it was perfunctorily buried on page 6.
Initial TV reports said a critique of the Kannada Prabha article, published by Siasat, a Bangalore-based Urdu newspaper run by the Congressman Roshan Baig, had also contributed to the trouble 24 hours after its publication.
In 1986, Bangalore had been rocked by riots and killings after the City’s leading English newspaper Deccan Herald published a short story in its magazine section titled “Muhammad, the Idiot”. The story was about a half-witted boy, had nothing to do with the prophet, and in fact caused no trouble when first published in Kannada.
Newspaper facsimile: courtesy Kannada Prabha