Protests over removal of Mistry’s novel from syllabus

October 19th, 2010 - 7:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Uddhav Thackeray New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) Expressing shock over the removal of author Rohinton Mistry’s novel ‘Such a Long Journey’ from the syllabus of the University of Bombay, a group activists Tuesday demanded removal of the varsity’s vice chancellor.

Coming together under the umbrella of Sahmat (Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust), eminent activists like Ram Rahman, M.K. Raina, Indira Chandrasekhar, Parthiv Shah and Madangopal Singh, called the act “blatant capitulation to the threat of mob violence” and “a serious assault on the autonomy of our academic institutions”.

It “should be condemned by all who stand by basic democratic values”, the group said.

“The vice chancellor has acted without due attention to the procedures prescribed under the university rules. He has to be severely sanctioned for this shocking neglect of his responsibilities to the academic community and to the student body of Mumbai,” a statement from Sahmat said.

The book was reportedly removed from the university’s English literature syllabus after Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aditya and the party’s student union objected to references to the Sena in Mistry’s book.

Talking to a TV channel, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan also supported the Shiv Sena and called the contents of the book “highly objectionable”.

“We equally condemn Chief Minister Ashok Chavan’s thoroughly opportunistic statement denouncing the supposedly ‘offensive’ language of the Mistry novel,” Sahmat said.

Rohinton’s famous novel ‘Such a long journey’ was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1991. It has won prestigious awards like the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction in 1991, Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book) and Books in Canada First Novel Award in 1992.

“Instead of bowing to these threats, the central and state governments should have acted against the groups who use violence and the threat of violence,” it added.

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