Well, really. I’ve probably said this before…but I’ll simply have to repeat myself then. This is one of those times I just have to shake my grizzled head and croak with the Wicked Witch of the North, ‘What a world, what a world.’
A kind and helpful reader, Chris of the blog Intelligent Life, alerted me to this horrible story in a comment on another story about gangs of religious thugs terrorizing people. There’s just no end to it, it seems.
Sanika Bapat, another post-graduate scholar merely questioned, ‘‘Why did they tear a Shivaji manuscript from this library? Are they Shivaji worshippers or patriots? They are worse than any militia. We are another Taliban now.’’ People sitting outside the library were at a loss for words. Said Dr M A Mehendale, ‘‘What can I say in the face of this destruction? Words really fail me.”
Everyone’s worst nightmare, or most people’s anyway. ‘We are another Taliban now.’ The worst kind of ignorant, narrow, aggressive, righteously-enraged, violent, destructive, red-eyed zealots breaking down the doors and smashing everything they find. Bullying, punishing, beating up, imprisoning women; destroying books and manuscripts; demolishing the Bamiyan Buddhas; smashing airplanes and heavily-populated buildings; burning down mosques; murdering publishers and translators; blackening the faces of women on billboards; threatening, threatening, threatening.
Another reader alerted me a few months ago to the matter of Romila Thapar – another historian that the Hindutva brigade doesn’t like.
While 72-year-old Thapar’s appointment was greeted with applause by serious students of history, little did anyone realise that acolytes of the Hindutva brand of politics, primarily those in the Indian diaspora, would unleash a vitriolic campaign against her built on name-calling and the disparaging of her professional qualifications. Claiming that “her appointment is a great travesty”, an online petition calling for its cancellation has, as of the last week in May, collected over 2000 signatures. Thapar, according to the petition, “is an avowed antagonist of India’s Hindu civilization. As a well-known Marxist, she represents a completely Euro-centric world view”. Protesting that she cannot “be the correct choice to represent India’s ancient history and civilization”, it states that she “completely disavows that India ever had a history”. The petitioners also aver that by “discrediting Hindu civilization” Romila Thapar and others are engaged in a “war of cultural genocide”.
At this rate, I’m going to have to put together an In Focus on Religious Outrages on Scholarship, or something. I certainly have more than enough material.
Update: I also posted about this at the group history blog Cliopatria which invited me to join them the other day. There are interesting comments from historians there.