The author of The Satanic Verses expressed fears over "paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld"
Salman Rushdie has pulled out of attending the Jaipur Literary Festival in person, saying that intelligence sources have warned of a planned assassination attempt against him.
The Indian-born author had been due to speak but said he feared being the target of "paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld". Earlier this week his name was taken off the list of speakers
"For the last several days I have made no public comment about my proposed trip to the Jaipur Literary Festival at the request of the local authorities in Rajasthan, hoping that they would put in place such precautions as might be necessary to allow me to come and address the Festival audience in circumstances that were comfortable and safe for all," he said today in a statement.
"I have now been informed by intelligence sources in Maharashtra and Rajasthan that paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld may be on their way to Jaipur to 'eliminate' me. While I have some doubts about the accuracy of this intelligence, it would be irresponsible of me to come to the Festival in such circumstances; irresponsible to my family, to the festival audience,and to my fellow writers. I will therefore not travel to Jaipur as planned."
In 1989 Rushdie was forced to go into hiding after the Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him for writing the novel The Satanic Verses, which is considered by many to be blasphemous.
Rushdie said he hoped to be able to participate in the Jaipur festival by video link instead. "Believe me, I am sorry not to be there in person," he added.
Vice-chancellor of the Darul Uloom Deoband seminary, Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani, had criticised Rushdie's planned visit, mentioning The Satanic Verses, and saying a visit "would be adding salt to the injuries of Muslims. He has hurt our religious sentiments."