The controversy over James Laine’s book on Shivaji took an unexpected turn on Monday with the state announcing that the book’s publisher, Oxford University Press (India), has assured it that it will not print or circulate copies of the book.
On July 9, the Supreme Court upheld the Bombay High Court’s verdict that the 2004 ban on the book, Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, be lifted.
The verdict had left the state embarrassed and uncertain about how to tackle the political maelstrom it unleashed. With outfits such as the Sambhaji Brigade taking to the streets, maintaining law and order was becoming an issue.
A relieved Home Minister RR Patil told the state legislature that the Oxford University Press had faxed an undertaking on Monday. “The Press says there are no copies of the book in the market and it doesn’t want to print another edition. It has withdrawn the copies that were available,” he said.
Oxford officials chose not to comment on the issue.
Patil said Laine has given an affidavit that the controversial remarks be deleted from the book. Patil added that the state would bring in a law to punish authors for derogatory writing, based on the one in force in Tamil Nadu. “We have to get the Centre’s approval for the new law.”