BANGALORE: Within weeks of Penguin controversially recalling Wendy Doniger’s book, ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’, another publisher, Aleph, pulled out the American author’s previous work, ‘On Hinduism’, on Tuesday. Bookshops across Bangalore received calls from representatives of Aleph Book Company, promoted by Rupa Publications, seeking return of all copies of the book.
Confirming the move, an Aleph spokesman said, “We don’t want to get involved in any controversy. Officials from our Delhi office sent a clear message to us — recall all copies of ‘On Hinduism’ we had sold to across Karnataka. We got back about 100 copies till Tuesday evening.”
‘On Hinduism’ was published in 2013 while ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’ was published in 2009. Mayi Gowda of Blossom Book House told TOI that the publisher sought the return all copies of the book. On Monday, this bookshop had sold all 95 copies of the book following renewed interest in Doniger’s work post- Penguin’s withdrawal of ‘An Alternative History’.
Another city bookshop, Bookworm, said it returned a few copies of the book Tuesday morning. The staff at different book shops said they got emails from the publisher seeking their cooperation.
Advocate Lawrence Liang of the Bangalore-based Alternative Law Forum, who had filed a legal notice on Penguin India over the withdrawal of Doniger’s book, described Aleph’s step as “terrible”.
“It’s absolutely shameful and ridiculous. If you want a publisher to withdraw a book, all you have to do is file a police complaint. Reading has no future in this country,” Liang said.
‘The Hindus’ had been recalled by Penguin following protests by a little-known organization’ Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, on grounds that its contents were “derogatory and offensive to Hinduism” and misrepresented facts. The Samiti upped the ante last week and demanded ‘On Hinduism’ be withdrawn as well, as it too was “malicious and offending.”