Penguin Books India has reportedly agreed to withdraw all published copies of Wendy Doniger’s book ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’ from India and pulp their remaining copies, in a move that is seen as a curb on the freedom of expression and has angered many on social media websites.
The agreement signed by Penguin with the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Committee, represented by Dinanath Batra, was leaked online. The document was put up on Scribd and Twitter. While Penguin has not yet responded to the controversy, Doniger said in an email that the book is being taken out of publication in India.
The copy of the agreement said Penguin India shall, ‘with immediate effect recall and withdraw all copies of the book The Hindus: An Alternative History, written by Wendy Doniger from Bharat (Indian Territory)’.
It also said that Penguin will no longer sell, publish or distribute the book and that all recalled, withdrawn and unpublished copies shall be pulped by Penguin at its own cost. Penguin will have to ensure that the book is completely withdrawn from Bharat (Indian Territory) at the earliest and within a period not exceeding six months starting from the date on which the agreement is signed by the parties.
Amazon described the book as “an engrossing and definitive narrative account of history and myth that offers a new way of understanding one of the world’s oldest major religions, The Hindus elucidates the relationship between recorded history and imaginary worlds.”