February 12, 2014
Magha Shukla Trayodashi, Kaliyug Varsha 5115
New Delhi :
US author Wendy Doniger’s controversial book “The Hindus: An alternative history”, which had created a stir among various right-wing groups over allegedly “defaming the Hindu religion and freedom fighters”, will be pulled out of the Indian market after its publishers decided to “withdraw and recall all the copies from India”.
The “amicable settlement” between the petitioner and the publisher was reached following a two year long legal battle in a trial court and a criminal complaint against the defendant.
In a settlement agreement with petitioner Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, a Delhi-based group with right-wing leanings, which had filed a civil suit against the book’s author Doniger and its publisher Penguins Book India seeking an injunction restraining them from selling or circulating the book, Penguin India agreed to “pulp the recalled/withdrawn/unsold copies” at its own cost.
“The second party (Penguin India) shall ensure that the book is completely withdrawn/cleared from Bharat (Indian territory) at the earliest, and within a period not exceeding six months, starting from the date on which this agreement is signed by the parties,” stated the agreement, which was signed of February 4.
Additional District Judge Balwant Rai Bansal was hearing the civil suit filed in 2011 by Dinanath Batra, convener of Shiksha Bachao Andolan, through his counsel Monika Arora. Along with him, there were five other petitioners including ex-IFS officer O P Gupta, Sharvan Kumar, president, Swami Vivekananda Medical Mission among others.
Talking to TOI, Batra said that he had also filed a complaint on April 29, 2010 in Hauz Khas police station seeking action against the defendants for “gross misrepresentations and printing mistakes in the book-the most offensive of which is to erase Kashmir from Indian Territory even between 600 and 1600 CE long before even the existence of Pakistan”.
“The defendants later approached us for a settlement and we agreed. We also informed the court about the settlement agreement,” Batra added. Penguin India refused to comment on the matter.
As part of the agreement, the petitioners would withdraw “with immediate effect all civil and criminal cases/complaints and any other action initiated under relevant laws against Second Party, Wendy Doniger and Penguin USA and give a written confirmation in this regard”.
Accepting the agreement, ADJ Bansal, dismissed the suit as withdrawn.
The 800-page book, published in 2009, claimed in its blurb that it is a definitive narrative account of history and myth that offers a new way of understanding one of the world’s oldest major religions.
The petitioners, however, in their plea had claimed that the book was based on “unreliable and unauthentic and one sided sources” and is full of biases, generalizations and pre-conceived notions. “That it has not only used and misused but abused Indian history and religion in an undignified manner. It is a mis-interpretation of Hindu dharma and its glorious past. That the defendant along with the author have selected scattered events of their choice and given them their own interpretation,” the petition had stated.
Quoting the excerpts from the book, the petition stated that the author incorrectly stated that “Hindu organizations began holding rallies at the site of Babur’s Mosque, campaigning for the rebuilding of the temple despite the absence of any evidence to confirm either the existence of the temple or even the identification of the modern town of Ayodhya”.
They also claimed that Doniger, in her book, had maliciously and mischievously written that “the monkey was presumed to be Hanuman, who has become the mascot of the RSS, the militant wing of the BJP”.
The petitioners also alleged that Doniger’s claim on Mahatama Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda eating “beef” and Jhansi Ki Rani having loyalty for Britishers was equivalent to “defaming the Indian freedom fighters in general”.
“That the author and publisher have wantonly indulged in unlawful act by showing photographs of Hindu god namely Lord Krishna sitting on the lap of a naked woman and surrounded by other naked women and thereby have tried to provoke people intending and knowing that it is likely to cause the offence of rioting,” the petition added.
Source : HJS