AUTHOR: Sisir Kar with introduction by Sumanta Banerjee
EXTENT: XX IX+410
About the Book
Bengali Books Proscribed Under the Raj is an English translation of Sisir Kar’s Bengali book British Shashoney Bajeyapto Bangla Boi published in 1988 by Ananda Publishers (P.) Ltd. It analyses the historical background of the national movement in Bengal and the events that led to the proscription of a large number of Bengali publications. The dread of the free diffusion of knowledge had always prompted the panicky government to impose restrictions on press freedom. The first Press Act was introduced in 1823 by the then Governor General John Adams, when the avowed policy of the government had been “to keep the natives of India in the profoundest possible state of barbarism and darkness.”
As the revolutionary movement in Bengal gained momentum, particularly after 1905, the government conveniently introduced new laws to suppress the freedom of expression. The press Act of 1910 was followed by a series of draconian laws, which obviously helped the rulers in their attempt to gag the press. Scores of books, newspaper, magazines and even manuscripts were banned under the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) act of 1931 and the Defence of India Rules, a systematic account of which has been chronicled in this book. Meticulously documented, this treatise on banned Bengali books is a most through going study based on almost all available evidences.
About the Author
Born in Howrah in 1935, Sisir Kar was educated at a local school and then at different colleges in his home town and Calcutta. After a short stint with the Hindustan Standard, Delhi, he joined the Anandabazar Patrika and moved to Calcutta. In 1974, his interest in proscribed Bengali books was quickened by a casual discussion at a friend’s house in London on the availability of rare Bengali books, useful documents in the India House library and the British Museum.
Coming back to India he kept on visiting libraries of documentary sources in different parts of the country, not forgetting, however, to save time for assimilation of the invaluable information he had gathered. Bengali Books Proscribed Under the Raj is an outcome of Sisir Kar’s untiring efforts to record the details of Bengali books banned during the Raj. Drawing heavily on classified government documents hitherto unavailable to historians and researchers, he cites examples of how writers, printers and publishers, victims of political persecution had been oppressed for propagating the message of militant nationalism.