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CIP Protests Banning of Gandhi Book

1 April 2011

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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) (Sukla Sen)

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