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Thursday, August 9, 2007

MIM activists rough up Taslima Nasreen in Hyderabad

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HYDERABAD: Controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen was on Thursday roughed up by MIM activists who stormed into a book release function, injuring a Telugu writer and a press photographer.

Nasreen, here to release the Telugu translation of her latest book 'Shodh', escaped unhurt as organisers and journalists shielded her and escorted her to safety.

A group of over 40 MIM workers, led by party MLAs Afsar Khan, Ahmed Pasha and Mouzam Khan, barged into the press club at Somajiguda when the function was about to end.

Hurling abuse and shouting slogans, the MIM workers surged menacingly towards the dais as a stunned Nasreen looked on.

They threw papers and books at Nasreen. In the melee, Telugu writer N Innaiah, the organiser of the function and president of the rationalist organisation Centre for Inquiry, was injured along with a press photographer.

Alert organisers and journalists covering the event threw a protective ring around Nasreen and took her to an adjoining room.

The MIM activists, who demanded that Nasreen should leave immediately, broke windows and damaged furniture at the venue.

Police then reached the spot and dispersed them.

The three MLAs from the city and their supporters were taken to Banjara Hills police station, Deputy Commissioner of Police M Madhusudhan Reddy said.

The manager of the Press Club filed a complaint with police against the attackers.

A large number of mediapersons gathered at the press club and protested against the behaviour of the MIM activists. They sought stringent action against the MLAs and their supporters.

Later, a delegation of journalists led by Indian Journalists Union (IJU) secretary general K Srinivasa Reddy and Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) leader D Amar met Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and sought stringent action against the culprits.

The MIM, which has considerable influence in the old city area, is represented in the Lok Sabha by Asaduddin Owaisi and has five members in the assembly.

Digvijay Singh, the Congress general secretary in-charge of party affairs in Andhra Pradesh, condemned the incident and said such attacks had no place in a liberal society.

The CPI state council termed the incident as an "attack on the freedom of expression by Muslim fundamentalists" and demanded the immediate arrest of the MIM legislators and their supporters.

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