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Gita ban: Did the govt ignore warning?

December 20, 2011 17:45 IST

Did the Indian government chose to remain mum and do nothing to prevent the move by a Siberian court to ban the Bhagvat Gita, despite the fact they were alerted by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, almost a month before the controversy broke out?

In November, a letter was sent to the Prime Minister's Office (addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterji) by ISKON. The letter suggested that the government send a high-level ministerial delegation to Moscow, ahead of the PM's visit, to resolve the issue.

"We are very sorry to inform you that on June 30, 2011, the state prosecutor's office in Tomsk, Russia, has filed a court case asking the court to ban Bhagvad Gita in Russia, translated by ISKCON's founder AC Bhaktived Swami Prabhupada," the letter, signed by governing body commissioner Gopal Krishna Goswami said.

"It also alleged that a panel of local experts had concluded that "Krishna is evil and (the Gita is) not compatible with Christian views," the letter said.

The issue has provoked a strong response, with the Bharatiya Janata Party slamming the government for not being proactive enough in Parliament on Tuesday.

"The embassy and the Russian country cannot take steps automatically. The government will have to take steps on their own," Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said.

In response, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said, "While this complaint is patently absurd, we have treated this matter seriously and the Indian Embassy in Moscow is closely monitoring this legal case."

The remark was greeted with approval. Swaraj demanded that Gita be declared a 'national book' so that "no country would dare to insult it.

A court in Tmosk will deliver its verdict on December 28.