Mumbai: V S Naipaul has come in for stinging criticism from noted playwright Girish Karnad for his views on Muslims in India, with the latter saying the Nobel laureate has no idea of the community's contribution to the country's history.

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"Naipaul has no idea of how Muslims contributed to Indian history," Karnad said during a session on theatre, at the "Literature Live!" literature festival here yesterday where he attacked the Indian-origin writer for his reported visit to BJP office after Babri mosque demolition.

Dwelling on Naipaul's anti-Islam stance in his writing, Karnad said, "Given that music defines our daily existence... you find it in the streets, in the restaurants and so on... you would expect an exploration of India to comment on that.

"Now Mr Naipaul has written three books on India. If you read them, you find that not even one of them contains any reference to music. He has gone through the whole of India without responding to Indian music. I think that only means that he is tone deaf," Karnad said.

Naipaul, who was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the festival, was not present when Karnad made the remarks before a small audience which included actor Naseeruddin Shah.

Calling Naipaul an unreliable writer of non-fiction as far as India is concerned, Karnad said, "He really doesn't pay much attention to the details of the texts he studies."

Mixed views on Karnad's outburst

Naipaul's friend and author Farookh Dhondy dismissed Karnad's remarks saying it appeared "like a courtroom where the prosecution was allowed to make points but the defence was silenced".

"Naipaul has never expressed views about the religion or any animosity towards Muslims," Dhondy said.

He said that Naipaul's wife Nadira is a Pakistani and his other family members also belong to the Muslim community.

Anil Dharker, director of the LitFest, also sided with Naipaul.

"The award has been conferred for a body of works and not for a select few remarks," Dharker said.

However, many in the audience supported Karnad though some were angry at not being allowed to present an opposing viewpoint.

(Agencies)

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