The Jharkhand government on Saturday informed the Assembly that Santhali writer Sowvendra Shekhar Hansda’s book The Adivasi Will Not Dance, which allegedly has objectionable content on Santhali women, was banned and copies of it had been seized in Pakur. Hansda was also suspended as government medical doctor. A direction to register an FIR has also been given.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Saryu Roy told the House that the Deputy Commissioner of Pakur was directed to seize available copies and such seizures would take place anywhere in the state.
Roy also said the government intended to constitute a committee of littérateurs to review the material at hand. “He is an award-winning writer… Therefore, it would be proper if we get it reviewed by some littérateurs,” he said. However, there was no announcement of constitution of any such committee.
Talking to The Indian Express over phone, Hansda said: “I wrote it with a clean conscience. Had it been so objectionable, my book would have not been published and liked and acceptable to people.” Asked about the ban on his book and possible FIR against him, Hansda refused to comment.
The matter was raised in the Assembly on Friday by a BJP MLA, based on a report in Hindustan. The Opposition too demanded strict action. The government had then said that strict action would be taken against Hansda, who is a government doctor at Additional Public Health Centre in Pakuria Block of Pakur district.
While support for Hansda has been pouring in from his friends and readers, some tribal activists like Gladson Dungdung have criticised his work.
It was pointed out in the Assembly that one story in the book The Adivasi Will Not Dance portrays a Santhal woman as having agreed to sleep with a person in exchange for something to eat.