Intellectuals protest ICHR’s order suspending publication of ‘Towards Freedom’ volumes


The latest order from the ICHR directing Oxford University Press to stop midway the publication of two volumes on the freedom struggle by two of India’s leading historians, Professor Sumit Sarkar and Professor K.N. Panikkar, has shocked the academic community in the capital. Professor Sumit Sarkar of the University of Delhi and Professor K.N. Panikkar of JNU had been commissioned to write a volume each for the Indian Council of Historical Research’s multi-volume series on the Freedom Movement in India, under the ‘Towards Freedom’ project. They had completed their work and the typescripts were in the press when Oxford University Press received the letter directing it to suspend production of the two volumes and return them to the ICHR for review. This was done without informing the respective authors, and without the knnowledge of the General Editor of the series, who alone is authorised to approve the manuscripts. The authors were informed by Oxford University Press. Moreover, as per reports in the press, it appears that the letter was written bypassing even the ICHR, and at the behest of the HRD Ministry.


We see this entire move, first and foremost, as a blatant attempt to stifle secular historical scholarship by imposing censorship on the work of two of India’s leading social historians. We also see it in the context and logic of the increasing attacks on minorities and on artists, film-makers and intellectuals who have remained committed to the vision of a secular and democratic India, a vision that was inscribed into the Constitution and a vision without which this country could not have won freedom from colonial rule.

We strongly protest this despicable attack on freedom of scholarship and urge you to direct the ICHR to immediately retract its order to stop publication of these two volumes.

Signed by academicians, scientists, doctors, engineers, journalists, cultural artists, writers, from universities and institutions in India, Pakistan, USA, Britain, France, Italy