Today it seems that politics makes strange bedfellows. Sugata Bose delivered a speech, that was academically very good. I applaud to such speeches. Soniaji and Rahulji were compelled. We all should compliment each other. Shook his hands. I only wished that Dr Bose was to gift them a book called The Dead Reckoning by Sharmila Bose, Dr Bose’s sister. A renowned historian. In the book, she writes that the Bangladesh liberation war was a fallacy. That the Pakistani army did nothing to Bangladeshis that Indira Gandhi went to support. The question that rises now – [Satta to Indira Gandhi ne bhi khoyi thi lekin unke bete ne Bharat ki barbadi ke naaro ka samarthan nahi kiya tha]. Even Indira Gandhi lost power, was out of power, but his son never supported slogans of India’s destruction.
That clip, from HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s much-applauded speech in the Lok Sabha on February 24. Turns out, though, that she was making that stuff up. Or someone was making it up on her behalf. Here is the author, Sarmila Bose, on what her book is really about:
Unfortunately, what Minister Irani attributed to my book is incorrect. She claimed I wrote that “the Bangladesh liberation war was a fallacy”. Whether India’s intervention by means of invasion in Pakistan’s self-destructive crisis was a fallacy or not is an important question, but not one addressed in my book. The book is not about India. It is an investigation, based on extensive field research, of what happened in particular incidents of violence during a little over a year of conflict in what was then East Pakistan. Irani is also mistaken in claiming that I wrote that “the Pakistan army never did anything to the Bangladeshis that Indira Gandhi went to support”. The book is something of a catalogue of horrors: describing the atrocities committed by the Pakistan army to crush a movement for “azaadi” in one of their provinces, as well as those committed by Bangladeshi nationalists against non-Bengalis in the name of Bengali nationalism.
Ms Bose has more to say about the contents of the book, about JNU, and related matters. She ends with this pointed aside:
I realise the minister is busy and perhaps did not have the time to read my book, but whoever briefed her on me is probably unreliable on other matters as well. Quite apart from misrepresenting my work, was it right or fair to try to use me to attack my brother, an opposition MP, who made a speech the day before? Irani thought he should present my book to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. That is a very good idea, as long as they take the trouble to read the book of course, before opining on it. However, it is far more important for the people of India to have access to a wide range of evidence-based publications and the freedom to engage in debate on difficult issues, including the dark side of “nationalism”.