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Distributors cold towards book on Shivaji

Last updated on: April 30, 2007 19:53 IST

The Bombay high court may have lifted the ban on American scholar James Laine's book Shivaji: A Hindu King in Islamic India, but bibliophiles in Mumbai may never get to lay their hands on a copy of the book.

That's because book distributors seem lukewarm to the idea of stocking the book in stores.

"Yes, there are a lot of enquiries about the title. But we don't have a single copy of it as of now," this is what a store in-charge of a popular book stall in Mumbai had to say when contacted by rediff.com.

Officials of Oxford University Press, publishers of the book,  refused to say anything on the issue since their managing director was flying out of the country and only he was authorised to comment.

"The publisher's agent will have to inform us about the new copies. Only then can we place an order. But they have not approached us so far even though it has generated a lot of curiosity and interest among readers," an employee of Strand book stall in Mumbai told rediff.com.

Oxford University Press India withdrew the book in November 2003 following widespread protests.

Phone calls to other booksellers also yielded similar results, as all of them seemed uncomfortable when asked whether they will be stocking the book.

"No sir. We don't have the title and I am sorry I won't be able to divulge any more information regarding it. As of now, we don't have the Shivaji book in our stores," said an employee of Crossword bookstore's Malad branch.

Their discomfort is understandable since the Shiv Sena, which venerates Chhatrapati Shivaji, has made it clear that it will not allow a single copy of the book to be sold in Maharashtra.

"Yes, we have decided to unleash a full-fledged protest against the book. We will ensure that the public across the country is discouraged from reading the book," Rahul Narvekar of the Shiv Sena's legal cell in Mumbai told rediff.com.

In fact, Shiv Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut said protestors have taken in writing from Oxford book store that they will not sell copies of the book.

He added that not a single copy of the book be allowed to reach book stalls and they will make sure not a single copy is sold.

The Shiv Sena is also reported to be planning public protests against the book from May 1, Maharashtra Day.

Binoy Valsan in Mumbai