American scholar angry after book on Hindus pulped in India

Updated 13 February 2014

American scholar angry after book on Hindus pulped in India

DELHI: American scholar Wendy Doniger said she was “angry and disappointed” that all copies of her latest book on Hinduism will be pulped in India after a legal row that has ignited fears about free speech.
Her publisher Penguin agreed on Monday to withdraw the 2009 book “The Hindus: An Alternative History” to settle a court battle with an activist group which took offense to the depiction of the religion.
“I was of course angry and disappointed to see this happen and I am deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech in India in the present, and steadily worsening, political climate,” she wrote in an e-mail statement sent to AFP on Tuesday.
Doniger, 74, wrote in her statement that as a “publisher’s daughter, I particularly wince at the knowledge that the existing books (unless they are bought out quickly by people intrigued by all the brouhaha) will be pulped.”
The Shiksha Bachao Andolan Committee, a group of Hindu academics, filed civil and criminal suits in a New Delhi court claiming the book contained factual errors and parts of it misrepresented Hindu mythology.
Other writers and champions of free speech have widely criticized Penguin’s decision to cave into pressure and reach a settlement, rather than fight the case and seek to challenge any lower court ruling on appeal.
“The agreement by the publisher to withdraw it is like putting a contract out on free expression,” wrote commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta in an opinion piece in The Indian Express newspaper.
Penguin India has not responded to repeated requests for comment, but Doninger sprang to the defense of the publisher, which is part of the publishing giant Penguin Random House.
“Penguin India took this book on knowing that it would stir anger in the Hindutva ranks, and they defended it in the courts for four years, both as a civil and as a criminal suit,” she wrote.
The mutual agreement between the publisher and the activist group does not impose any legal binding on any other Indian publisher that wishes to publish Doniger’s book in India, lawyers say.
Many authors and artists practise self-censorship in religiously diverse India, which is about 80 percent Hindu, due to tough laws against inciting communal violence and a powerful censor.


Protests in New Delhi against India’s citizenship law ahead of Trump visit

Updated 23 February 2020

Protests in New Delhi against India’s citizenship law ahead of Trump visit

  • Hundreds of people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it
  • The protest comes just a day before US President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit to India

NEW DELHI: Police used tear gas to disperse large crowds in India’s capital of New Delhi on Sunday in the latest eruption of violence at protests over a new citizenship law, police officials said.
Hundreds of people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it, with the two groups pelting each other with stones in the Maujpur area in the northeastern part of the city, according to television footage.
“There must be some miscreants who want to spoil the peace in the area. We will identify them and take action against them,” Alok Kumar, a senior Delhi police official, told reporters about the protest.
“The situation is under control now,” he added.
The protest comes just a day before US President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit to India, where he is expected to raise the issue of religious freedom in the country with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, which eases the path for non-Muslims from neighboring Muslim-majority nations to gain citizenship, has triggered weeks of sometimes violent protests against Modi’s government.
The Indian law is seen by opponents as discriminating against Muslims and has deepened concerns that Modi’s administration is undermining India’s secular traditions.
Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party denies any bias against the country’s 180 million Muslims.
On Sunday, a separate protest also erupted in the northern Indian city of Aligarh, where protesters threw stones at the police, state administration official Chandra Bhushan Singh said.
The Internet in the area had been suspended until midnight, he added.