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Saturday, Sep 25, 2021
Outlook.com
Outlook.com

The Bans And The Banners

The Bans And The Banners
The Bans And The Banners
outlookindia.com
1970-01-01T05:30:00+05:30

Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Krishnan Srinivasan says "Indians cannot even bear different interpretations of history". But he seems to have got some of his facts wrong about, presumably, the the book by James Laine:

Speculation about Shivaji’s paternity — that too, by a foreigner —provoked the then BJP prime minister in 2004 to ‘warn’ the author, caused an oriental research institute in Pune to be looted by party loyalists, the book to be banned India-wide, and the Maharashtra government to ask for the author’s arrest through Interpol. The same state government, apparently on a legal complaint by a Shivaji descendant, banned yet another book by the same author in 2006. [More here]

For as Arun Shourie pointed out in his Humpty Dumpty interview and was widely reported at that time, Mr Atal behari Vajpayee had actually opposed the ban. The Telegraph itself had reported on January 17, 2004 as follows:

He took the opportunity to hit out at the violent protests against James Laine’s controversial book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India and the government’s decision to ban it.

“If you are unhappy with certain sections in a book, sit down and talk about it,’’ the Prime Minister said. “Banning it and destroying it is not the answer. This is not how things should be.”

On January 19, 2004, the Telegraph had another report which explained the background of the Sambhaji Brigade, which had ransacked the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune on January 5:

Marauders belonging to the group, which champions the Maratha cause like the Shiv Sena but was started to counter Bal Thackeray’s outfit

The same report had also explained, once again:

On a visit to Mumbai on Friday, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee condemned the attack and the ban on the book announced by the Congress-led coalition of Maharashtra.

Thus, basically, it was an organisation close to Mr Sharad Pawar's NCP that was behind the attack and it was the Congress-led government in Maharashtra that banned the book. Writing for Outlook website, Dilip Chitre had recounted the role played by the then Maharashtra home minister in the whole sorry episode.

But, there is no arguing with Mr Srinivasan's larger point:

What would be the public reaction if the characters and careers of iconic figures like Rabindranath Tagore, Maulana Azad or Subhas Chandra Bose were to be deconstructed and demolished? Will India be forever prone to emotional convulsions, and could our enemies be tempted deliberately to use historical biography to divide our society?

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