Threatened with a defamation suit for his "unflattering references" to Bihar's royal family of Dumraon in his book 'Half Girlfriend', best-selling author Chetan Bhagat has extended sent an olive branch to the aggrieved party.
Bhagat has extended “an offer of lifelong friendship” to Maharaj Bahadur Kamal Singh and ‘Yuvraj’ Chandra Vijay Singh of the erstwhile princely state of Dumraon in Bihar’s Buxar district.
This was in response to a legal notice sent to him on November 14, seeking an unconditional public apology from Bhagat and the publisher of his book, Rupa Publications, for the description of the royal family as ‘gamblers and alcoholics’ in Half Girlfriend.
Through the notice, sent by Supreme Court lawyer Gaurav Ghosh, the family had also sought the expunging of the words "Royal Family of Dumraon" and other references to the erstwhile rulers from all copies that may be published in the future.
Expressing his sincere regret, Bhagat has urged the royal family to consider making him “an honorary resident” of Dumraon.
“I cannot compel you to do so, but if you do, it will mean a lot to me and I will share this generous act of yours with the world,” the author stated in his ‘emotionally charged’ communication.
“I set the book in Bihar to promote Bihar, to make people more curious about the state... in some ways we have the same goal... more glory for Dumraon. We should not be adversaries, we should be friends,” Bhagat stated.
“This is not something we need to discuss in public, or in courts, please let me know and we can talk this over."
“This sounds like an offer for an out of court settlement. But the letter is frivolous and does not answer our substantive concerns pertaining to our honour and dignity,” the Dumaraon Maharaja’s grandson Shivang Vijay Singh told HT on Thursday.
In a second legal notice sent on behalf of the royal family on December 8, lawyer Gaurav Ghosh described Bhagat’s submissions as “meaningless” and reiterated the royals’ demand to initiate proceedings if Bhagat failed to address their concerns.
Bhagat had recently posted on Twitter: “Meanwhile have to write a letter to the family in Dumraon explaining the meaning of fiction and imaginary stories. Will do so privately”.
Describing this as representative of Bhagat’s ‘Janus-faced’ approach, the second called his offer of friendship as “unscrupulous” and hence rejected. It seeks compliance of demand raised through the earlier November 14 notice.
It also calls upon Bhagat and Rupa Publications to desist from promoting ‘Half Girlfriend’, failing which the royal family would be constrained to seek damages and initiate criminal proceedings against the two "addressees".