The National Book Trust, which organised the New Delhi World Book Fair, withdrew permission for a reading of a book on the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Monday, hours after requesting for it. Avijit Ghosh’s (pictured above) Up Campus Down Campus is based on JNU from the 1980s and was published not long after students of the university, including JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar, were accused of sedition.
Up Campus Down Campus was one of three books submitted by publisher Speaking Tiger for a book discussion and reading at the fair – the others were books by Mridula Koshy and Swapna Liddle. “They told us the director of NBT wants to read Ghosh’s book. At the last minute, they told us that Ghosh wouldn’t be allowed to read. We weren’t given any reasons,” Co-founder of Speaking Tiger Ravi Singh told The Indian Express.
In a post on Ghosh’s Facebook profile says: “The present NBT chairman [Baldev Sharma] is a former editor of Panchjanya [a publication of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh]. In the absence of an explanation, I can only speculate on their act.”
The NBT, however, has claimed that their decision was “programme based” and not directed at anyone in particular, IANS reported.
The reading was meant to be a discussion between Ghosh and Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashutosh, who took to Twitter to denounce the move, calling it “suppression of expression” and “dictatorship”. Highlighting that the NBT functioned under the Human Resources Development Ministry, he said, “Is it hatred towards me or towards JNU?...This way you cannot suppress our voice or the voice of JNU.”