Indian Mob Destroys Ancient Manuscripts 2004-01-07Posted by clype in Humanities, Intolerance.
An Indian mob has destroyed 30 000 ancient manuscripts and rioted in retaliation for Oxford University Press publishing a book about a Hindu king.
The incident was sparked by an allegedly objectionable observations by author and teacher James Laine in a book on the parentage of Maratha warrior king Shivaji.
In the process, he paints a new and more complex picture of Hindu-Muslim relations from the seventeenth century to the present. The controversy had seemed to have been resolved when Mr.Laine apologised last month for his statements on Shivaji.
The book's publisher, Oxford University Press, withdrew the book from the market. But on Monday, thousands of rare Sankskrit manuscripts, ancient books and palm leaf inscriptions were destroyed in half an hour as 250 protesters ransacked the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.
One of the worst losses includes a clay tablet dating back to the Assyrian civilisation of 600BC.
The protesters, members of a group called Sambhaji Brigade, pelted stones and broke glass at the institute. Some cut the telephone lines so the police could not be contacted.
Police protection has been given to three historians, G.B.Mahendale, Shrikant Bahulkar and V.L.Manjul in the light of the controversy over the book.