BHOPAL: Exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen says the Gandhi family had nothing to do with the creation of Bangladesh. The new nation came up in 1971 because of West Pakistan's oppression.
"Bangladesh came into being due to the movement of its people, not because of the Gandhi family as claimed by Rahul Gandhi," Nasreen said.
"Nobody from outside can ever divide or create any country. It was the movement of the local people that brought freedom to Bangladesh," she added.
She, however, expressed gratitude towards India, which "extended help to Bangladesh in its formation".
The eastern wing of Pakistan seceded in 1971 to become an independent Bangladesh after a long guerrilla war against Pakistani troops. Eventually, the conflict led to the third India-Pakistan war in December that year.
The Bangladeshi writer's comments came days after Congress MP Rahul Gandhi told an election rally in Uttar Pradesh that the Gandhi family should be credited for India's independence as well as Bangladesh's independence.
Gandhi's remarks have sparked a row - both within and outside India.
The Bangladeshi author, who lives in India, also expressed regret over the rise of Islamist fundamentalism in Bangladesh and wondered whether the people of her country were prepared for 'real democracy'.
"It was because of fundamentalists that I had to leave my country," she said, adding that though she was still a Bangladeshi citizen, the country had shut its doors to her.
"I lived in Europe for 12 years but was tired of staying in a rather different culture," said Nasreen.
The controversial writer also slammed the protests against Hollywood actor Richard Gere's kissing of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty at an AIDS awareness programme in New Delhi.
"When Shilpa herself was at ease over whatever happened, who are those staging the protest? Are they the cultural police? This is a democracy, everybody has the right to choose and express themselves," she said.
"Things would have been different only if Shilpa had any objection to her kissing or got angry over it. If she was enjoying it, then what is the problem?
"All this happens in reel life and when nobody has any objection on seeing it on screen, why all hell broke lose when it happened in real life?" she asked.
Nasreen said that every woman, or every individual, had the right to freedom but most men believe that they offer freedom to women. "Who are they to give women freedom?" she asked.