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In Defence of Freedom of Expression and academic independence

Reading of excerpts from Rohinton Mistry’s book - 18 Oct 2010 Mumbai

The invitation and the video recodings from the reading

by, 16 October 2010

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1. Invitation:

2. Video recordings from the reading and discussion

1. The Invitation:

Dear Friends

You are invited to a reading of excerpts from Rohinton Mistry’s

Such A Long Journey

on Monday, October 18, 4 pm, at Press Club, Mumbai

Mumbai-born Rohinton Mistry’s multi-award winning novel `Such a Long Journey’, set in Mumbai of the early 70s, which was being taught as a text to SYBA Eng Lit Students was overnight withdrawn on a demand made by the youngest Thackeray to emerge in the Shiv Sena. Aditya Thackeray, grandson of Bal and son of Uddhav Thackeray, and a student of St Xavier’s College, gave an ultimatum to the VC to withdraw the book because it contained references against the Sena. The VC immediately complied.

For too long have parties like the Shiv Sena decided what we should read. Normally, politicians give in. This time, the man occupying the highest academic post in the University, the VC himself, went out of his way to oblige this particular student.

To protest against such arbitrary and undemocratic infringement of academic independence, three Mumbai groups are organising a reading of Mistry’s book.

Theatre personality Dolly Thakore & novelist Meher Pestonji will read from the book.

This will be followed by a discussion on `Censorship, Art & Politics’’ , led by Well-known academician Prof Pushpa Bhave,
Usha Subramaniam, Prof of English, who has taught the book,
Kumar Prashant, writer and editor of Sarvodaya Jagat
Anand Teltumbde, writer & columnist, EPW T
he discussion will be chaired by Rohini Hensman, researcher & human rights activist

Pl join us to raise your voice against such fascist moves.

Citizen initiative for Peace, Committee for Release of Dr Binayak Sen and Mumbai Initiative of Human Rights Education.

Citizen Initiative for peace

A group of over 80 activists, NGOs and other groups and individuals who have come together to initiate programmes, discussions and otherwise work towards maintaining peace in Mumbai city. Email- info at

Committee for Release of Dr Binayak Sen, Mumbai CRBS came together to campaign for the release of Dr Binayak Sen, vice-president PUCL, and a paediatrician who was arrested in 2006 under the draconian Chhattisgarh Public Security Act for standing up for tribal rights. After a two-year stint in prison, he is on bail now, while his trial continues. We as a group continue to fight for democratic rights and raise our voices against human rights violations. Email- icareforjustice at

Mumbai Initiative for Human Rights Education The seeds of Mumbai Initiative for Human Rights Education (MIHRE) were sown at a National Human Rights Education Workshop organised by IHREC in Mumbai in October 2003.The mission of MIHRE is to promote human rights culture in the Mumbai metropolitan region through education in schools as well as colleges, universities and other higher educational institutions. Email- drtc at

2. Video recordings from the reading and discussion

Here are video extracts from the meeting of 18 October. The first portions where Dolly Thakore read general passages from the book and brought the attendees up to date with the book, have been omitted.

Anand Patwardhan Reading Out Rohinton Mistry’s statement-in-progress

PART 1: Meher Pestonji reads the controversial portions from Rohinton Mistry’s book

PART 2: Discussion on censorship

PART 3: More discussion on censorship

PART 4: Discussion and rounding up of the session

A Young Student Gives Her Views