The Rajiv Gandhi government had banned Salman Rushdie’s book, Natwar Singh narrated the whole story

Former foreign minister Natwar Singh has defended the Rajiv Gandhi government’s decision to ban author Salman Rushdie’s controversial book Satanic Verses.He said that this decision was taken completely keeping in mind the law and order situation.Rushdie was attacked in New York on Friday, after which his book has once again come into the limelight.

The book was banned in 1988, when Singh was the Minister of State for External Affairs.He said he was involved in the decision to ban the book.He had told the then Prime Minister that this book could create a serious law and order situation as people are angry. 

“Allegations of banning because of Muslim appeasement are false” Singh termed as “rubbish” the allegations of critics that the Rajiv Gandhi government had taken the decision to ban the book because of Muslim appeasement.”I don’t believe it (the decision to ban the book) was wrong as it created law and order problems, especially in Kashmir,” he said.There was unrest in other parts of India.

‘Decision taken when there was a law and order problem’ Singh said, ‘Rajiv Gandhi asked me what should be done.I said that all my life I have vehemently opposed the ban on books, but when it comes to law and order problems, even a book by a great writer like Rushdie, should be banned.Rushdie’s book ‘Midnight Children’ is one of the great novels of the 20th century, but the decision to ban ‘Satanic Verses’ was purely due to law and order.’

Many Muslims consider this book as blasphemy .Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s assassination.Strongly defending the Rajiv Gandhi government’s decision, Singh said, “I consider it completely justified as it could have created serious law and order situation.”At that time the sentiments were at its peak, especially of the Muslims.

Singh said he was distressed by the attack on Rushdie.“He is a 75-year-old man who does no harm to anyone and is contributing to literature.Some rogue comes and kills him at close range, that too while he was giving a speech in New York.’