Death threat keeps Rushdie at bay.
Salman Rushdie has cancelled his announced appearance at an Indian literary event saying he had been told "paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld" were coming to kill him.
Mumbai Police officials were quoted as denying having any information assassins from the city's underworld were out to kill Rushdie at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Rushdie, however, did not attribute the threat information to the Mumbai police.
Rushdie's decision triggered protests by intellectuals in India who had gathered in Jaipur to take part in what is now Asia's biggest such festival. They slammed Indian authorities for failing to offer protection to the writer.
The scheduled visit of Rushdie, 65, became uncertain earlier after an Indian Islamic seminary protested his invitation to the festival, though he had graced it in the past without a whimper of protest.
"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," Rushdie said in a statement read out Friday by the producer of the festival.
"While I have some doubts as to the accuracy of this intelligence, it would be irresponsible of me to come to the festival in such circumstances," the statement said.
He later tweeted: "Very sad not to be at Jaipur. I was told Bombay [now Mumbai] mafia don issued weapons to 2 hitmen to 'eliminate' me. Will do video link instead. Damn."
Rushdie did not attribute the assassination threat to the Islamic Republic or Iranian agents or even to Muslims, just to Indian underworld figures.