“At the same time, a publishing company has the same obligation as any other organisation to respect the laws of the land in which it operates, however intolerant and restrictive those laws may be. We also have a moral responsibility to protect our employees against threats and harassment where we can,” it added. The withdrawal of US scholar Wendy Doniger’s book “The Hindu: An Alternative History” came Tuesday after the publishers went for an out of court settlement with Dinanath Batra of Shiksha Bachao Andolan Committee who had filed a civil suit and two criminal complaints against it.
This timid move by the publishers came under severe criticism from literary writers, thinkers and readers who said such decisions encourage “self-censorship” and undermine freedom of expression. While an Indian edition will not be available, Penguin said international editions will be available to the Indian readers. “The settlement reached this week brings to a close a four year legal process in which Penguin has defended the publication of the Indian edition of the book,” it said.
“We have published, in succession, hardcover, paperback and e-book editions of the title. International editions of the book remain available physically and digitally to Indian readers who still wish to purchase it,” it added.