30, Oct 2015
A total of 53 historians including leading names like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, KN Pannikar and Mridula Mukherjee have in a joint statement raised their serious concerns over recent developments.
Written by Shikha Sharma , Vandana Kalra | New Delhi | Published:October 30, 2015 3:59 am
AFTER PROTESTS by writers, artists, scientists and filmmakers, over 50 historians — including leading names like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, M G S Narayanan, K N Panikkar, B D Chattopadhyaya, D N Jha, Neeladri Bhattacharya, Shireen Moosvi, Indu Banga and Upinder Singh — on Thursday expressed concern about the “highly vitiated atmosphere prevailing in the country”.
“Differences of opinion are being sought to be settled by using physical violence. Arguments are met not with counter arguments but with bullets. When a poor man is suspected to have kept a food item that certain sections do not approve of, his fate is nothing short of death by lynching. At the launch of a book whose author happens to be from a country disapproved of by certain groups, the organiser is disfigured with ink thrown on his face,” said a statement signed by 53 historians.
“And when it is hoped that the head of government will make a statement about improving the prevailing conditions, he chooses to speak only about general poverty; and it takes the head of the state to make the required reassuring statement, not once but twice. When writer after writer is returning their award of recognition in protest, no comment is made about the conditions that caused the protest; instead the ministers call it a paper revolution and advise the writers to stop writing. This is as good as saying that intellectuals will be silenced if they protest,” it said.
“This is particularly worrying for us as historians, as we have already experienced attempts to ban our books and expunge statements of history… What the regime seems to want is a kind of legislated history, a manufactured image of the past, glorifying certain aspects of it and denigrating others,” it said.