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Indian state bans controversial book

The Indian state of Gujarat has banned a new book about the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 that has angered Hindu nationalists, a minister said yesterday.
The book praises Pakistan's founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah and is critical of the role played by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a revered Hindu nationalist of the partition era and India's first home minister.
"We banned the book because it contains defamatory references regarding Vallabhbhai Patel. He is considered the architect of the modern India, no one can show him in bad light," Jayanarayan Vyas, a state minister, told AFP.
The book, "Jinah: India-Partition-Independence", was written by leading Hindu nationalist figure Jaswant Singh, who was expelled by his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday because of his views.
Gujarat, a relatively wealthy western state that was hit by deadly communal violence in 2002, is ruled by the BJP, which is the main national opposition party to the ruling Congress party.
The furore and the ban go to the heart of a highly sensitive debate in India about blame for partition of the British-controlled subcontinent into Pakistan and India, which sparked communal riots that left up to a million dead.
At the time of partition, Mohammed Ali Jinnah was leader of the Muslim League party, which had called for a separate Muslim state, and he spearheaded negotiations with Britain and India's founding Congress party.
Singh has criticised the demonisation of Jinnah by the BJP, whose ideological head, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps), dreams of reuniting Pakistan, Bangladesh and India into a confederation.
"The day we start banning books, we are banning thinking," Singh was quoted by The Hindustan Times newspaper as saying.

 

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