Urdu writers have been asked to declare that their books were not against the government or the nation.
A declaration form circulated by the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), which operates under the Smriti Irani’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, requires authors of books NCPUL acquires annually to declare that the content will not be against the government or the country.
According to Indian Express, which claims to have acquired the circulated form, several Urdu writers and editors have been asked to provide signatures of two witnesses.
The form, read, “I son/daughter of confirm that my book/magazine titled which has been approved for bulk purchase by NCPUL’s monetary assistance scheme does not contain anything against the policies of the government of India or the interest of the nation, does not cause disharmony of any sort between different classes of the country, and is not monetarily supported by any government or non-government institution.”
NCPUL director Irteza Karim, who was appointed early last year, said the decision to include this declaration form was taken in a meeting of council of ministers including Smriti Irani last year.
He said, “If a writer wants financial aid from the government, then of course the content cannot be against (the government). NCPUL is a government organisation and we are government employees. We will naturally protect the interests of the government. The decision to add this declaration form was taken about a year ago at a meeting of the council members, which includes members of the HRD Ministry. The Home Ministry is also in the know of things.”
Writers have condemned the central government’s decision describing it as its arm-twisting tactics to comply with its ‘shenanigans.’
Shanaaz Nabi, a Kolkata-based author, said, “It is an insult to ask an author to get two witnesses to sign a declaration that will curb their freedom of expression.”