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NEW DELHI: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bharatiya Janata Party, Vishwa Hindu Parishad continued the ‘offensive’ with copies of a book being burnt in Tamil Nadu, and called for the ‘ghar wapsi’ of Manjhi families in Bihar.

The VHP announced the ghar wapsi of 40 Manjhi families in Gaya, belonging to the same caste as the Bihar chief minister, claiming that they had been converted to Christianity recently. The VHP claimed that the families had been ‘misguided’ and were prepared to revert to Hinduism. Significantly the Gaya District Magistrate in a report to the CM Jeetan Ram Manjhi made it clear that no such forcible conversions to Christianity had taken place.

In yet another attack on freedom of expression Tamil Nadu BJP and RSS leaders burnt copies of well known Tamil writer Perumal Murugan’s book Mathorubagan at Tiruchengode. They want a ban on the book as well as the arrest of the author.

The book was written and released in 2010 with the attack clearly motivated four years later. The RSS and BJP men claimed that Shiva and women devotees were portrayed in a “bad light.”

Murugan has been receiving abusive and threatening phone calls. he told the media that he would have welcomed criticism had it come from persons who had even bothered to read the book. “Burning copies of the book is really saddening. After all, what I have written is a fiction and like all my other works, the plot of Mathorubagan revolves around my native place, Tiruchengode, and its beliefs and myths,” he said.

Penguin India that pulped Wendy Doniger’s book “The Hindus: an Alternative History” is also the publisher of the English translation of Mathorubagan, “One Part Woman.’ This was published last year. The local publishers of the book in Tamil have told the Indian Express that they will not withdraw the book, will continue to publish Murugan’s works and “will fight this atrocity.”

Murugan himself comes from a family of marginal farmers in northern Kongunadu. His father supplemented his meagre agricultural income with a soda shop. Murugan was attracted to writing as a child, and went on to complete his doctorate in Tamil Nadu. He is a progressive writer and has several books and short stories to his name.

Murugan is now clearly a target of the RSS and BJP in Tamil Nadu. After being shunned by the Tamil parties, with Vaiko virtually walking out of the ‘grand alliance’, the BJP is seeking to strengthen its position by taking on local icons like Murugan.