Salman Rushdie has confirmed that he will not attend the Jaipur Literary Festival in person, saying that intelligence sources have warned of a planned assassination attempt.
In a statement, Rushdie said: "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.
"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."
Rushdie said he hoped to be able to participate by video link instead, at a time to be announced soon. "Believe me, I am sorry not to be there in person," he commented.
The development comes after vice-chancellor of the Darul Uloom Deoband seminary, Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani, criticised Rushdie's planned visit, citing the novel The Satanic Verses, and saying a visit "would be adding salt to the injuries of Muslims. He has hurt our religious sentiments."
English PEN has protested against what it describes as the "failure of the Indian authorities to offer adequate protection" to Rushdie. The body's president Gillian Slovo said: "Salman Rushdie was born in India and has every right to visit the country of his birth. The Indian Government had earlier said it would not stop Rushdie from attending the festival and it should honour its commitment to freedom of expression."