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Arya Samaj plans march to defend book by founder

Special Correspondent

Case filed seeking ban on ‘Satyarth Prakash’

JAIPUR: The Arya Samaj will organise a long march from Udaipur in Rajasthan to New Delhi later this month to generate public opinion over a petition filed in a civil court in Delhi seeking a ban on “Satyarth Prakash”, a book authored by Arya Samaj founder Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati.

The declaratory suit, filed by two persons in Delhi’s Tis Hazari courts, has sought a ban in perpetuity on the book with the contention that its chapters on Islam and Christianity had used “very hard, obnoxious and defamatory language” and its publication was likely to disturb peace and public order.

Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha president and social activist Swami Agnivesh told reporters here on Thursday that the five-day “Prachar Yatra” (publicity march) would start from Udaipur on May 17 and cross several towns in Rajasthan and Haryana to culminate on May 21 at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, where a huge public meeting on the issue would be held.

The Delhi civil court, after issuing notices to seven defendants, has listed the case for hearing on May 21.

Mr. Agnivesh said the Arya Samaj had chalked out a “two-pronged strategy” to defend the book in the court and take the issue to the people for a “healthy debate”.

Mr. Agnivesh regretted that Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, the Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid in Delhi, had issued a “fatwa” (opinion) that “Satyarth Prakash” contained objectionable matter on Islam without realising its serious implications. He said two Muslims having approached the court on the basis of the fatwa would drive a wedge between the two communities.

The Arya Samaj leader claimed that several Muslims had converted to Hinduism after reading the “magnum opus” of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, which itself was a proof of its authenticity. “The demand for a ban on Satyarth Prakash is a sinister ploy to vitiate the already charged communal atmosphere in the country with the Lok Sabha and several Assembly elections approaching fast,” he added. Affirming that the march led by Vaidik Virakt Mandal would promote an “exchange of views” among various communities with the distribution of one lakh copies of Satyarth Prakash, Mr. Agnivesh said the Arya Samaj would neither allow the debate to take any communal or violent turn nor permit anyone to hijack it for narrow political gains.

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