JAIPUR, India — At an old Mughal palace accommodating what organizers called “the greatest literary show on earth,” the headliners on Sunday included Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra and Tom Stoppard. But the absence of another star, Salman Rushdie, continued to overshadow the event.

A free-speech controversy has raged at the event, the Jaipur Literature Festival, since Friday, when Mr. Rushdie said he would not attend because the law enforcement authorities had warned of a threat against his life by “paid assassins.” But the story took a twist over the weekend: Was there really a threat?

On Sunday, several Indian news media outlets suggested there was not, and quoted police sources whom they did not name saying so. In a Twitter message, Mr. Rushdie pointed to a front-page article in The Hindu, an English-language Indian newspaper, which contended that the assassination plot was invented by the police in Rajasthan, the state where the festival is being held, to discourage the author from attending. “I’ve investigated and believe that I was indeed lied to,” Mr. Rushdie wrote. “I am outraged and very angry.”

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