22 September, 2020

Corpse, Robbers

The Congress-NCP gives in to chauvinist hordes at the funeral of a book

Corpse, Robbers
The condemnation of the January 5 ransacking of Pune’s Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute hasn’t quite measured up in intensity to the act itself. Activists of the Sambhaji Brigade had raided the 87- year-old institute, laying waste to invaluable archives, to protest its help to James Laine’s book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India. The book is currently in the eye of a storm for uncharitable remarks on the parentage of the 17th century ruler.

Nearly a fortnight down the line, in a move seen as tacitly vindicating the vandalisers, the state government has banned the book and registered an offence against Laine and his publishers, OUP. The Congress- NCP combine is clearly unwilling to alienate the state’s sizeable Maratha votebank in an election year. Says writer Dilip Chitre, one of those acknowledged in Laine’s book: "The Sambhaji Brigade has Sharad Pawar’s indirect backing. The government has been rendered impotent."

Masterminds of the attack like Purushottam Khedekar are still at large. And protests against the book continue. On January 14, the 406th...



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