‘Glorifies Naxalism and legitimises conversion of Tribals’: DU committee member on recommendation to remove books

The Delhi University’s standing committee on academic matters has recommended the removal of two books from the reading list for history because they “glorify Naxalism” and “legitimize conversion of tribals to Christianity”. The two books in question are “Subalterns and Sovereigns: An Anthropological History of Bastar, 1854-2006” by Nandini Sundar and Archana Prasad’s “Against Ecological Romanticism: Verrier Elwin and the Making of an Anti-modern Tribal Identity”.

“On Tuesday they arrested activists calling them ‘urban Naxals’, and they are trying to paint us with the same brush. But they have nothing against us, so this is how they are targeting us,” Prasad told TOI while claiming that the recommendation was politically motivated. Nandini Sundar, meanwhile, has taken to Twitter to suggest that it was not DU which objected to her books but BJP members.

Talking to OpIndia.com, Dr Geeta Bhatt, who is a member of the committee that recommended the removal, said, “It was a meeting of the standing committee of academic matters where syllabus of all Post Graduate departments had come for approval. The History department prescribed these books for teaching a paper on Adivasis, Caste and social exclusion. Concern was raised as the book by Nandini Sundar glorifies the Naxalites and their deeds while Archana Prasad’s book gives legitimacy to conversions of tribals.”

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Responding to Nandini Sundar’s insinuation that only a “few BJP members” had raised their voice against the book, Dr Bhatt said, “All the members in the committee are from Delhi University. The HOD of all departments, Deans of colleges, Academic council members are part of the committee.”

She also rubbished Prasad’s allegations that the recommendation was politically motivated. She said, “Our concern is that the books referred should not have content which justifies any armed resistance or conversions.”

Nandini Sundar is the wife of S Varadarajan of The Wire and is accused of a tribal man’s murder in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma. Archana Prasad was also booked in the same case. The Superintendent of Police of Bastar had also written to the Vice Chancellors of JNU and DU asserting that the two had tried to instigate the villagers against the Police.

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