Taslima losing her eyesight
Thursday, 20 March 2008

Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, hounded into hiding in India by death threats from Islamic militants, said Tuesday she has heart problems and is losing her eyesight because of stress, reports AFP.

Speaking to AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location, Nasreen said she hoped to leave for France or Denmark for medical treatment after months in isolation also sent her blood-pressure soaring.

“I am living like a caged bird,” the 45-year-old said. “I have become very weak. My eyesight is on the wane. I fear I will become blind unless I move out of here and get my eyes treated.”

Nasreen, who has been living under Indian government protection since November, said she was shadowed at all times by intelligence personnel and was not allowed to see friends. “I handed over a list of five friends to the government to allow them to come to my apartment.

They threw away the list citing security reasons,” she said. “No doctor is allowed to visit my place to check my health. I cannot believe that this can happen in a democracy like India.” Nasreen said she longed to return to the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, which she adopted as her home in 2004.

“If I wait to return to my beloved city, Kolkata, I will surely die,” she said. “I will fly out to France or Denmark for my treatment and will return to India once the Indian government allows me to live in Kolkata.”

Nasreen was forced to leave Bangladesh in 1994 after extremist Muslims accused her of blasphemy over her novel “Lajja” — or “Shame”—which depicts the life of a Hindu family persecuted by Muslims in Bangladesh.

She has been seeking permanent residence in India, where she moved after spending time in Europe and the United States, but so far the government has only granted her six-month visas, fearful of a Muslim backlash.

The writer was forced to flee Kolkata in November after receiving death threats from radical Indian Muslims. Last month, several radical Muslims protested against India’s decision to extend her visa and demanded her deportation.

In August, a radical cleric offered “an unlimited financial reward” to anyone who killed her. New Delhi extended Nasreen’s visa in February, but warned her not to “hurt the sentiments” of the country’s religious communities—a reference to the India’s 140 million Muslims.

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