| NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI Feb 11 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 main opposition
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)