Penguin withdraws book on Hindus after court case

NEW DELHI Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:03pm IST

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Penguin Books India has agreed to withdraw from sale all copies of a book that takes an unorthodox view of Hinduism, and will pulp them as part of a settlement after a case was filed against the publisher, the petitioners' lawyer said.

"The Hindus: An Alternative History" by Wendy Doniger, a professor at the University of Chicago's Divinity School, was published in India in 2011. Its depiction of the religion drew criticism from both conservative Hindus and some scholars.

Penguin on Monday agreed in the Saket Court in Delhi to recall the book, the petitioners' lawyer Monika Arora said. What appeared to be a copy of the court agreement was widely circulated on the internet on Tuesday. A complaint was filed by seven petitioners' in the court in 2011.

Penguin did not respond to several requests for comment.

The lead petitioner's original complaint criticised the book for "heresies and factual inaccuracies" and criticised Doniger for having a selective approach to writing about Hinduism.

"She denounced the Hindu Gods and freedom fighters of India," the petitioners' lawyer Arora told Reuters.

A group headed by the lead petitioner has previously made complaints about diverse subjects including sex education in schools and a magazine article about Hindu militancy.

The book's withdrawal triggered anger on Twitter, rekindling a debate on freedom of speech in the world's largest democracy.

"The 'offended' prevail over freedom of speech. Surely gods too great to be so easily upset?" tweeted Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

It was not the first time a book has been banned in India. Rushdie's 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses", which many Muslims deemed blasphemous, is proscribed due to its depiction of Islam.

The legal notice said Doniger was incorrect in describing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India's largest Hindu nationalist organisation, which is close to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as the party's militant wing.

The BJP is the frontrunner in national polls due by May.

The notice also said that Doniger incorrectly tells readers the RSS was behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, India's freedom hero, saying a judicial commission had exonerated the RSS of any complicity in Gandhi's murder.

Gandhi was shot dead by a former member of the organisation.

In a separate incident last week, Hindu hardliners burned copies of an Indian magazine because of a story in which it quotes a Hindu nationalist leader as saying that Mohan Bhagwat, who leads the RSS, had sanctioned deadly attacks on Muslims.

The RSS has denied the allegations against Bhagwat.

(Reporting By Sruthi Gottipati; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Alistair Lyon)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Cinema

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Sax and the City

Sax and the City

Kenny G hits sour note in China with Hong Kong visit .  Full Article 

Editor Dead

Editor Dead

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee dies at 93.  Full Article 

Legal Battle

Legal Battle

Singer Kesha denied drug, sex claims against producer 3 years ago.  Full Article 

The Savage Mountain

The Savage Mountain

Reuters Photographer Wolfgang Rattay travelled to northern Pakistan to trek the K2 base camp trail.  Slideshow 

Humane Filmmaker

Humane Filmmaker

Animal rights group honors 'Noah' director avoiding animal use in film.  Full Article 

Celebrity Auction

Celebrity Auction

Madonna memorabilia takes center stage in celebrity auction.  Full Article 

Romantic Portugal

Romantic Portugal

Sintra, Portugal was the first center of Romantic architecture in the 19th century, with its influences spreading wide across Europe.  Slideshow 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage