(Press Release: Supplied by Sukla Sen)


The Citizens’ Initiative for Peace (CIP), Mumbai is quite dismayed at the reported moves of the Maharashtra government to ban the book ‘Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his Struggle with India’ authored by Joseph Lelyveld, apparently based on secondhand sources viz. reviews of the same carried by some newspapers.


While we have strong reservations about banning of books, in this particular case it is all the more disturbing that the proponents of the ban do not consider it necessary to look into the concerned book itself before taking the drastic measure. Not even the refutation of the author himself of the allegedly slanted interpretations of the book has apparently dented its zeal. It is all the more shocking that the Gujarat Assembly has already passed a resolution to this effect. So is the reported move by the Union Government to amend the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, in order to make any action or gesture that shows disrespect to Gandhi an offence at par with an offence against the National Flag or the Constitution. This speaks of a paranoid mind-frame suffering from a deep sense of insecurity.


The CIP strongly condemns such moves meant to restrict free expressions and rational inquiry and urges a rethink.


A ban is justified only in case the publication is definitively defamatory and scurrilous and/or meant to foment hatred and violence. This measure has got to be used only with great caution and discretion, not at the drop of any and every hat around.


(Jatin Desai and Sukla Sen)

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