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Banned Books and Where to Find Them in Delhi

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The world may have moved on to Kindles and iPads, but all the eBooks cannot replicate the feeling of nostalgia one gets in a book. However, India’s reputation for having a narrow public mindset has always been a point of discussion. From being deemed to being harmful to the nation’s integrity, to just being subtly offensive, books are banned in India for all kinds of reasons.

Here is a compilation of banned books along with a list of places where they could be found in Delhi:

1. Understanding Islam through Hadis by Ram Swarup
Banned for being harsh towards Islam, this book had also gotten its publisher arrested. Despite having invoked the wrath of the Muslim community, a tawny copy of this book will be found in a small kiosk, left of Golcha Cinema, on Netaji Subhash Marg in Daryaganj.

2. The Price of Power by Seymour Hersh
Morarji Desai, the early Indian Prime Minister was accused of supplying secrets to the CIA in this book. He launched a case and got the book banned in India. However, second hand copy of this book was last spotted by the correspondent in a lesser known kiosk opposite Bhandari House in Nehru Place.

3. The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger
This book, banned for portraying Indian Gods in an unlikely manner, saw a major backlash from the Shiksha Bachao Aandolan Samiti and uncles and aunties alike. However, unbeknownst to the moral police, a source had spotted a copy of this book in a book store, simply called Book Shop, which is tucked in a corner of Lajpat Bhawan’s Sisters of the People NGO building, near the Moolchand Metro Station.

4. Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence by Jaswant Singh
This book was banned for portraying Jinnah in an objective manner rather than as a demonised nation breaker, and for criticising the policies of Nehru and Sardar Patel. Inspite of this, an old and rusty copy of the same was unearthed from under a pile of books by our correspondent in Ber Sarai of Delhi, located between Jawaharlal Nehru University and IIT Delhi, last June.

5. India Independent by Charles Bettelheim
Despite being banned in India, a copy of this book with bright, unmarked pages and firm binding can be found in Arora Book Shop in Hauz Khas Market. It is bound in a jacket which shows minor shelf rubbing and minor edge wear only. The owners will allow you to borrow it, if not buy it, and you can return the book after you’re done reading.

6. Old Soldier Sahib by Frank Richards
In the narrow by-lanes of old Delhi, a more than two-decade-old library, popularly called the Shah Waliullah library, contains ‘extinct’ or rare publications, including dictionaries and poems compiled in numerous languages. Situated a few steps away from Jama Masjid, in Imli gali of Chandni Chowk, it has over 15,000 books in Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian, and Arabic languages including the banned book ‘Old Soldier Sahib’ by Frank Richard.

7. The Land of Lingam by Arthur Miles
One of the very few Indie bookstores in the city,we hear the owner of May Day book store refuses to stock books by Chetan Bhagat and writers of the similar clan, even though they generate maximum profits. Amongst its selection of second-hand books is ‘The land of Lingam’ by Arthur Miles, which is banned in India.


Feature Image Credits: Pixabay

Vaibhavi Sharma Pathak
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A voracious reader of Mythology, embedded in a passionate Economics student who is also fanatically involved in Hindustani Classical Music. Tattoos and baking cakes are her muse. Ever reach out to talk at [email protected]

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