[Marxism] bhagat singh, che books seized...

Sudhir Devadas sudhirdin at gmail.com
Wed Nov 1 22:06:48 MST 2006

 Dear friends:

What happened in the last couple of weeks in India, in the world of books,
sends an alarming and chilling message to the forces of democracy in the

Books by Bhagat Singh, Che Guevara, Clara Zetkin, Baburam Bhattarai, Vaskar
Nandy, Li Onesto and Anand Swarup Varma are under no official ban. There is
no juridical or executive prohibition against  their publication,
distribution or readership - anywhere in the country. But the police
authorities, more often than not, operate above the law of land. This is
what happened at the Chandrapur book fair in Maharashtra. With total
impunity the local police officers assumed the power of censorship, of
arbitrarily deciding selling what book commits a "crime". Forty-one books
were seized, and the owner of the Stall was put through three days of harsh

All the details of what happened to the stall of Daanish Books, and to its
owner Ms. Sunita Narayan are there in the Press Statement, made by a large
number of publshing and distributing houses, appended below.

After three days of harrowing ordeal, Sunita was allowed to go, but not
before she was charged under Section 18 of the Unlawful Activities
(Prevention) Amendment Act of 2004. This is what the Section states:

(Note: Section 18 of the said act reads as follows:

1*8. Whoever conspires or attempts to commit, or advocates, abets, advises
or incites or knowingly facilitates the commission of, a terrorist act or
any act preparatory to the commission of a terrorist act, shall be
punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five
years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be
liable to fine.) *

Sunita has also been told in the written Notice: "*As and when and wherever
police asks you, you will present yourself for the purpose of investigation
of the crime. If you fail to do so appropriate action will be taken against
you. *"

During the course of interrogations Sunita was asked, among other things, *as
to why she was selling the books of Bhagat Singh when the country had
already become independent!* It is indeed odd. People all over the country
have already started the year-long commemoration of Bhagat Singh's centenary
which would culminate on his 100th birthday on September 28, 2007. Many
people receiving this note may not know that Bhagat Singh was a
revolutionary, and he was hanged by the British colonials when he was only
twenty-three. One could type his name on google, and by going to the
Wikipedia free encyclop[edia would know more about his life, his work, and
his martyrdom. This is what Bhagat Singh wrote in his prison notebook
shortly before he was hanged: "There cannot be any peace between the
oppressed and exploited and those who ride on their backs. There cannot be
any compromise between classes; time has come to bring an end to classes.
There cannot be justice until those who create wealth control the product of
their labour".

This is why Bhagat Singh is alive among the people, while the state would
like to block him away.
*Just the other day, in the Greater Vancouver area of Canada, under the
auspices of  the Rationalist Society there was a huge commemorative meeting,
marking the beginning of the year-long rememberance. About 400 people had
packed the Ravi Banquet Hall.  There were songs, drama skits, and speeches.
The October 20th Press Statement from New Delhi was read out.  A resolution
was unanimously adopted by the assembly to condemn the seizure of books, the
charges laid against Ms. Sunita Narayan, and to express solidarity with her,
with Daanish Books, and with the entire community of progressive publishers
in India. *

Dear friends, Sunita is back home in Delhi. But the matter is not over. Not
only there is a threat hanging over her head, there are also indications,
through newspaper articles, that the police is planning to widen its net to
include publishers, authors and printers all over the country.

We want you to be aware of all this. And we want your support and
solidarity. Charges against Sunita may have to fought in legal courts.

You could write to Ms. Sunita Narayan directly at : "Daanish Books"
<daanishbooks at gmail.com
>; you could also write back to   SANSAD, and we will transmit it to her.

Many thanks for your attention.

hari sharma

20 October 2006


We are deeply shocked and concerned at the incidents involving arbitrary
confiscation of books from the Daanish Books stall at the Chandrapur Book
Fair and the subsequent illegal detention, harassment and interrogation of
Sunita Narayan by the Chandrapur police. Sunita Narayan is owner of Daanish
Books, a reputable publishing house of progressive literature and a member
of the Independent Publishers Group (IPG).

On October 15, a contingent of 70 armed policemen surrounded the Daanish
stall for over three hours and made a list of some 200 books which they
found 'objectionable' and 'anti-national'; after the intervention of the
Superintendent of Police Mr. Ravindra Kadam, they finally seized 41 titles.
Later, an offence was registered against Sunita Narayan under the section 18
of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Ordinance, 2004, which was
introduced as replacement to dreaded POTA and she was questioned for over 14
hours by the Chandrapur police. Along with her, Vijay Vairagade, a local
social activist and his 17-year-old son were also questioned. Sunita was
allowed to go after her 3-day ordeal on the condition that she will have to
present herself as and when the police summons her. This was only after
protests were registered at the local as well as national and international

It may be noted that none of the books seized by the police-among them those
authored by Clara Zetkin, Bhagat Singh, Che Guevara, Baburam Bhattarai, Li
Onesto, Anand Swarup Varma, Vaskar Nandy-is banned or declared offensive by
any state agency. They are books that are publicly available everywhere, and
which civil society in any country with secular ideals should justly be
proud of. The police raid clearly smacks of arbitrariness and barbarism, and
is a denial of the right to free speech and propagation of ideas. *In no
democratic country can the police usurp the right to decide what will be
read or published by people, and the fact that the police of Chandrapur has
got away with it without any censure from the political leadership in the
state of Maharashtra or from the officialdom is a cause for major worry. *

Similarly, a few weeks back, the performance of a play dealing with the
history of Mumbai mills was forcibly stopped in Nagpur and the theatre group

We are also concerned with the increasing menace of vigilantism by right
wing groups in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh,
Rajasthan, Karnataka and Orissa, and the tacit or open support provided to
them by the state agencies. This spells danger to the free exchange of ideas
and the freedom to read, write, publish, disseminate and perform.

The intimidation of Sunita Kumari is unacceptable in a democratic society
and must be strongly condemned, and the officials responsible for it should
be held accountable and made to apologise.

On behalf of Independent Publishers' Group (IPG) and Independent Publishers'
Distribution Alternatives (IPDA):

Daanish Books (Dhruva Narayan)

LeftWord Books (Sudhanva Deshpande)

Navayana (S. Anand)

Samskriti (Madhumoy Sengupta)

Stree-Samya (Mandira Sen)

The Book Review Literary Trust (Chandra Chari and Uma Iyengar)

The Little Magazine (Antara Dev Sen)

Three Essays Collective (Asad Zaidi)

Tulika Books (Indira Chandrasekhar)

Tulika Publishers (Radhika Menon)

Women Unlimited (Ritu Menon)

Zubaan (Urvashi Butalia)

*Other Publishers:*

Critical Quest (Josna)

Gallerie Publishers, Mumbai (Bina Sarkar Ellias)

Granth Shilpi Prakashan (S.B. Rai)

Madhyam International (Kavaljit Singh)

Permanent Black (Rukun Advani)

Prakashan Sansthan (Harishchandra Sharma)

Rajkamal Prakashan and Radhakrishna Prakashan (Ashok Maheshwari)

Rupa & Company (Rajan Mehra)

Seagull (Naveen Kishore)

Vani Prakashan (Arun Maheshwari)

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