30 Jan 2012

Fresh Row over Banned US Author


The New Indian Express
Bhubaneshwar Thursday 28 January, 2012


Fresh Row over Banned US Author

Peter Heehs, author of controversial book on Sri Aurobindo, has moved court to lift the ban. But devotees of the spiritual leader contest his stay in India.

Express News Service

Bhubaneshwar: As Peter Heehs’ book on Sri Aurobindo continues to stir controversy, the devotees and disciples have urged the Odisha Government to investigate as well as clarify how a foreign national, whose visa has reportedly been cancelled, can continue to live in India and challenge the Government decisions.

The Odisha Government had, in April 2009, proscribed the book “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo” on the grounds that it insults religious beliefs of millions and promotes communal disaffection. Heehs, a US national, challenged the ban in the Orissa High Court earlier this week.

On Friday, the devotees and followers of Sri Aurobindo met Chief Secretary B.K. Patnaik and submitted a memorandum seeking to know how Heehs, who has been declared by the Government to be one promoting communal tension and whose visa has reportedly been cancelled by the Home Ministry, has been living illegally in India. “Is a foreign national allowed to challenge a Government order pertaining to the law and order of the country,” said a follower Prabhu Charan Acharya during a media conference on Thursday. The followers requested the Government to take the process to its logical conclusion and ensure arrest and deportation of Peter Heehs.

Last week the High Court had asked the Chief Secretary to reply within three weeks after a petition was filed challenging the ban imposed by the Government on the book. Heehs, who claims to be a historian as well as a writer, filed the petition under Section 96 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The followers of Sri Aurobindo claimed that Heehs has no formal educational qualification and had been given rehabilitation at the Aurobindo Ashram in 1970s. He was neither a devotee, nor a scholar but was given work as a proof reader at the archives and he went on to claim that he was the founder of the archives.

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