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Rushdie Abandons India Trip Amid Threats
The Hindustan Times, Mumbai (India), Jan. 12, 2004
It was history revisited for Salman Rushdie on Monday - almost. Muslim organisations of Mumbai issued a threat that they would blacken his face. They even announced a Rs. 1 lakh (Rs. 100,000) reward for anyone who would do it for them. Result: Rushdie went underground, checked out of the Taj Mahal hotel where he had been staying with girlfriend Padma Lakshmi, and skipped most of the functions he was slated to attend. They were booked to fly to New York on Monday night. In an interview with a television channel, though, he appeared relaxed. 'I am used to such protests,' he said. The Maharashtra government strengthened security at the Taj Mahal hotel. The All India Sunni Jamiatul Ulema, the Raza Academy and other Muslim organisations in the city woke up to the controversial writer's presence only on Monday.
This is Rushdie's first visit to India, and Mumbai, in more than 15 years. The writer had earlier said he needed to visit India in order to be able to write more books set in the country because he had run out of notes on his homeland with his last book, The Moor's Last Sigh, set in Kerala and Mumbai. Whether he succeeded in raising enough material or not, his disappearance left his detractors no choice but to offer a protest at the Azad Maidan. They sported banners like 'Kill Salman Rushdie' and berated the government for allowing him into the country.