A book by award-winning author Arundhati Roy has been removed from the syllabus of a Tamil Nadu university after a complaint by the ABVP.
According to a report in The Indian Express, Roy’s book ‘Walking with the Comrades’ was withdrawn by the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tirunelveli after a complaint by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the RSS’ student wing.
The book by Roy, published in 2011, details the face-off between the Indian state and the armed revolutionary Maoist forces. It was reportedly part of the university’s curriculum since 2017 for BA English language and literature students in their third semester.
Vice-Chancellor of the university, K. Pitchumani, told the newspaper that a committee had been formed after a complaint by the ABVP a week prior. “A committee comprising academic deans and board of studies members had considered the complaint and decided to withdraw the book as it may be inappropriate to teach a controversial book for students. We have replaced it with M. Krishnan’s My Native Land: Essays on Nature,” the VC reportedly said.
ABVP Dakshin Tamil Nadu joint secretary C. Vignesh told The Hindu that Roy’s book championed “anti-national Maoists”. “The teachers also taught an anti-national subject. Students are subjected to mental agony as the book encourages hatred against our country,” he was quoted saying.
The RSS journal Organiser quoted from the ABVP’s complaint regarding the book.
“MSU is an important institution where innumerable scholars and intellectuals have studied. Arundhati Roy’s book ‘Walking with the Comrades’ has been included in the syllabus for MA English (third semester), as part of Unit V (commonwealth literature). This is about the arms training given to the Maoists, who are considered as anti-nationals. It is highly regrettable that this book has been in the syllabus for the past three years. All these years Maoists thoughts and ideologies have been taught to the young students. The book instils anti-national sentiments in young fertile minds and encourages terrorism. We urge the MSU to condemn the inclusion of this book and withdraw the book immediately. The people behind this ulterior move should be asked to apologise. We will organise protests if it is not withdrawn from the curriculum (sic),” the student body’s statement said.
Roy has been a vocal critic of the right-wing forces in the country. It is not the first time either that the sangh parivar has raised an objection to teaching material by her. In July, the BJP’s Kerala unit wrote to the Governor asking for a speech by Roy to be removed from the Calicut University’s textbook.