Books

Jharkhand Government Gives Clean Chit to Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s Book on Adivasis

The state government had banned The Adivasi Will Not Dance in August alleging that it portrayed the Santhal community in a bad light.

The Adivasi Will Not Dance is a collection of short stories by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar. Credit: Facebook/Speaking Tiger

The Adivasi Will Not Dance is a collection of short stories by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar. Credit: Facebook/Speaking Tiger

New Delhi: Four months after banning Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s collection of short stories on the grounds that it portrayed the Santhal community – particularly women – in a ‘bad light,’ the Jharkhand government has given the book The Adivasi Will Not Dance a clean chit.

According to Scroll.in, Shekhar – who is also a doctor by profession and was suspended on August 13 for writing the book without the state’s government permission – had said that he would not make any changes in the book. “If I do so, then where is my freedom of expression?” he had said.

The government had constituted a team of tribal experts and authors to conduct an inquiry, and the report on the same was tabled in the state assembly on Tuesday (December 12). The state government informed the assembly that it found nothing objectionable in Shekhar’s book – which was first released in November 2015 – with the parliamentary affairs minister Saryu Roy asserting that the ban on it was likely to be lifted soon, according to The Telegraph.

In early August, the state chief minister Raghubar Das had ordered the seizing of all available copies of the book as well as initiation of legal proceeding against the author. Shekhar had just days before that alleged online harassment from members of the Adivasi community since the book was published.

Those running the campaign against Shekhar’s work said that it demeans Santhal people and borders on ‘pornographic’. According to Roy, however, the report presented to the assembly stated that the author did not disparage tribal life or the Santhali women.

“He is a well-known author and a Sahitya Akademi Award winner. We ordered an inquiry to ward off unwarranted controversies. Authors and artists do have the right to express their inner feelings in their own ways. During inquiries it was found that his expressions did not aim at hurting anyone and his writing could not be dubbed pornography. The ban on his book may be withdrawn soon,” The Telegraph quoted Roy as saying.

Shekhar’s collection of ten short stories, originally written in English in 2015, was subsequently translated to Hindi, Marathi and Tamil.