Withdrawal of two volumes of the ‘Towards Freedom’ project


The ‘Towards Freedom’ project of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) aimed at bringing together documents which shed light on the various aspects of the National Movement during the ten years preceding freedom. It took much time for the collection to be made from various archival and private sources. Finally, historians, led by Professor S. Gopal as General Editor, began the work of final editing, as a result of which the printing of the volumes began. Three of the volumes, covering the years 1943-44, edited by the late Professor Parthasarathy Gupta, and three volumes covering the year 1938 edited by Basudev Chatterjee, have already been published by Oxford University Press. All students of the National Movement have been naturally looking forward to the rich additions the volumes would make to our knowledge of such a crucial period of our history.

It is therefore extremely disturbing to read in the press that the ICHR, which was duly ‘saffronized’ in 1998, has decided to withdraw the two further volumes (edited by Professors Sumit Sarkar and K.N. Panikkar) that are already with the publishers, ostensibly for a ‘review’. It is strange that while gentlemen of the Sangh Parivar, along with the MHRD Minister Shri Murli Manohar Joshi himself, have been crying hoarse over the delay in the project, they are now rushing to stop its completion through their nominees in the ICHR.
It is clear that the withdrawal of these volumes is part of the plan to spread a distorted and fictitious history of the National Movement, in which those, like the RSS luminaries,


who had never participated in it, are to be given the pride of place. The action also amounts to the grossest form of censorship, even if one forgets the presumption involved in anyone coming forward to screen the work of such eminent historians as those who are editing the ‘Towards Freedom’ volumes. The Sangh Parivar has not of course thought that by this action of censorship they are destroying the entire credibility of this project.

Both as historians and citizens, we strongly deplore this action and call upon all concerned, including the Parliament, to join in the endeavour to save the ‘Towards Freedom’ project and ensure the publication of all the volumes expeditiously and without any censorship.

Signed by:
Prof. Ravinder Kumar (former Chairman, ICHR), Prof. R.S. Sharma (former Chairman, ICHR), Prof. Irfan Habib(former Chairman, ICHR), Prof. K.M. Shrimali, Prof. D.N. Jha, Prof. Suvira Jaiswal, Prof. Shireen Moosvi, Prof. Aniruddha Ray, Prof. Rama Krishna Chatterji, Prof. Iqtidar A. Khan, Prof. Venkatasubramaniyan, Prof. A.P. Sharma, Prof. R.L. Shukla, Prof. H.C. Verma, Prof. S.R. Singh, Prof. H.C. Satyarthi, Prof. V.Ramakrishna, Prof. C.P.N.Sinha, P.S. Madan, R.P. Singh, V. Krishna Anant, Suchitra Gupta, Suresh Srivastava, D.N. Gupta, Najaf Haider, Inayat Zaidi, Sunila Zaidi, Amar Farooqui, V.M. Jha, Pradeep Kant, K.L. Tuteja, R.C. Thakaran, V.K. Jain, J.N. Sinha, S.C. Mishra, Biswamoy Pati, B.P. Sahu, Rajendra Prasad, G.P. Sharma