An ancient law that criminalises opinion has been used to suppress a scholarly work on Hinduism. G Vishnu deconstructs the Wendy Doniger controversy in Tehelka
Some are calling it the silencing of liberal India. After a four-year court battle, Penguin India that had published the The Hindus: An Alternative Historyin 2009, succumbed to pressure and agreed to settle out-of-court with Dinanath Batra, the Delhi-based petitioner who had sought to get the book withdrawn. The 683-page tome of scholarly and allegedly revisionist observations on evolution of Hinduismby Wendy Doniger, a US-based scholar on religions, now stands withdrawn (though it’s available on the Internet).
Apart from incensing guardians of free speech, the virtual ban on the book has also raised a major legal question regarding the categorisation of Indian epics as myths catering to the Hindu faith or part of civilisational history. Also disturbing is the question of what constitutes religious belief and potential projectiles that could hurt such beliefs.