The Chhattisgarh government on Saturday banned a book Charandas Chor – a play written and produced by noted theatre personality late Habib Tanvir, after a controversy erupted owing to citing one of the key characters as a dacoit.
Heeding to the protest lodged by a religious leader of Satnami Community Baldas that the book insults and defame their saintly idol Guru Ghasidas, the state government had decided to put a ban on both the book and the play based on 'Charandas Chor', which is revered as Habib Tanvir’s masterpiece.
The book, published by Delhi-based Vani Publishers, narrated that Guru Ghasidas before founding Satnam panth was a dacoit. Ghasidas according to the satnam panth was born in 1756 in village Giroudhpuri Raipur district in a Dalit family and is believed to have played a significant role in elevating the social status of the oppressed and underprivileged.
Several myths and beliefs have been built around Guru Ghasidas and the 35-lakh strong Satnamis in Chhattisgarh are now the followers of Ghasidas to whom they also attribute supernatural powers.
Habib Tanvir too was born in Raipur in 1923 and remained highly popular. Tanvir’s adaptation to comic folk tale ‘Charandas Chor’ has been acclaimed through India as one of the outstanding contributions to New Indian Theatre.
According to Baldas there have been repeated attempts to malign the image of Guru Ghasidas and the Satnami Samaj.
“We have warned the state to ban the book or else be prepared to face aggressive statewide demonstrations,” said Baldas, who again conveyed the feelings of the community to the Chief Minister Raman Singh and school education minister Brijmohan Agrawal.
The education minister took the decision to remove the objectionable part of the book and it was later decided not only to ban the book but also impose a ban on the play or drama based on it anywhere in the state.
The state education secretary Nandkumar told Hindustan Times that the ‘controversial’ book Charandas Chor would be banned in the state from Saturday. “We will also withdraw the book from all libraries in the state,” he said.
Interestingly, the first edition of the book was launched in 2004 and it was in the same year the Satnami community demanded not to allow the book to be released in schools or academic centres. But the state government did not take any decision then.
“It may be launched in 2004 but the controversial book was supplied to the schools and libraries only recently. We do not wish to offend any community so have decided to withdraw it with immediate effect,” affirmed Nandkumar.