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Bengal bans Taslima's book

By Our Special Correspondent

KOLKATA NOV. 28. The West Bengal Government has banned Dwikhandita, the recent autobiographical book by the controversial Bangladeshi author in exile, Taslima Nasreen, for saying it contained matter which could incite "enmity between different groups on grounds of religion''. An order has been issued for seizing all copies of the book.

The Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, said the book had been proscribed and a ban imposed on its printing. He feared that it had the potential to foment communal discord by those having vested interests.

The Kolkata police had seized about 3,000 copies of the book from its local publisher and raids would continue till all existing copies were impounded, Somen Mitra, DC DD-I, Kolkata police, told The Hindu today.

The order to ban the book states that it contains matters on pages 49 and 50 which could "promote enmity, ill-will and hatred between different groups on grounds of religion, punishable under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code.''

"Therefore, in exercise of powers conferred by Section 95 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it has been declared that with immediate effect every copy [of the book], documents containing copies, reprints and extracts be forfeited.'' The book has been mired in controversy ever since its publication. The Calcutta High Court had stopped the sale of the book for a fortnight since November 18 on a petition by Syed Hasmat Jalal who had filed a defamation suit against the author.

Some Muslim intellectuals, including the well-known author, Syed Mustafa Siraj, had a few days ago petitioned the West Bengal Government to confiscate the book.

He welcomed the decision of the State Government to ban the book "in the interest of amity and communal harmony,'' adding that "like Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, Ms. Nasreen's book is condemnable.''

An earlier book by Ms. Nasreen titled Lajja had been proscribed by the Bangladesh Government in 1993.

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