• Monday, 21 January 2019

'Pakistan's participation in Kolkata Book Fair appears slim'

Kolkata, Dec 25 : Amid the escalating Indo-Pak tension, Pakistan is unlikely to make its debut at the International Kolkata Book Fair (IKBF), an official from the organising committee said here on Tuesday.

"Owing to the current state of Indo-Pak relations, I don't think publishers from Pakistan will participate in the book fair," secretary of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild Tridib Chatterjee told IANS over phone.

As six publishers had shown interest in the invitations sent by the organiser, the organisers had also written to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 28 to ensure the country's participation for the first time in the history of the book fair.

"We had written to Mr Khan but have not received any reply. We really don't know anything as they are not taking our phone calls either."

He also mentioned that Pakistan's participation will be possible only after the Central government takes initiatives. The publishers who were expected to come have not got their visas yet.

Recently, there were reports that Indian diplomats are facing harassment in Pakistan on multiple counts. New gas connections are delayed making kitchens defunct, while Internet connections of many Indian officials have been blocked.

The 12-day mega event, beginning January 30, 2019, is slated to be inaugurated by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The central American nation Guatemala -- the heart of the Mayan World -- is the focal country this time along with participating countries such as the UK, the US, Russia, China, Japan, Vietnam, 11 Latin American countries and Bangladesh.

As the fair's regular venue Milan Mela is undergoing renovation, the fair would be held at the Central Park in Salt Lake, and stalls of approximately 600 publishers and 200 small magazines will be set up.

Also, the sixth Kolkata Literature Festival will be held from February 7 to 9 and the book fair closes on February 10.