The publishing company took this decision in response to a legal letter it received earlier this month from Dinanath Batra, the convener of the Hindu extremist group, Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti. According to Aleph, Batra claimed in his letter that there were many objectionable passages in Doniger’s book that offended the sensitivities of the Hindu community. He also threatened to take legal action if the publisher did not withdraw the book by March 10.
Aleph said it informed Batra that it would reprint the book only after assessing the opinions of its lawyers and four independent writers and scholars on whether there was any merit to his objections.
"Once we have received their reports we will discuss them with the author and the complainant in order to find a solution that satisfies all parties," Aleph said in the statement. "The author concurs with our course of action."
Aleph's move comes after Penguin decided last month to withdraw copies of another book by Doniger, The Hindus: An Alternative History, and to pulp existing stock within six months, in response to a case that Batra and five others had filed in 2011.
Penguin reached a settlement with Batra in a district court in New Delhi in which it agreed not to "sell, publish or distribute" the book in India and to destroy all existing copies at its own cost.
Penguin said its hands were tied and it was at the mercy of the law, but its decision evoked strong criticism from across the world. Critics said Penguin ought to have fought it out in court instead of caving in so easily to a fringe group.
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