The Calcutta Quran Petition
|Author||Sita Ram Goel, Chandmal Chopra|
|Publisher||Voice of India|
|1986, 1987, 1999|
|LC Class||KNS2162 .A49 1986|
The Calcutta Quran Petition (Bengali: কলকাতা কোরান মামলা) is a book by Sita Ram Goel and Chandmal Chopra published by Goel under his Voice of India imprint. The first edition was published in 1986, the second in 1987 and the third in 1999.
Himangshu Kishore Chakraborty letter
On July 20, 1984, H.K. Chakraborty wrote to the Secretary, Department of Home Government of West Bengal, demanding the ban of the Quran. He wrote again on 14 August that year, but received no response. Chakraborty lived in Bangladesh before moving to Kolkata, and witnessed the behaviour of the Muslims towards the Hindu minority in Bangladesh during and after Partition of India.
Chakraborty thereafter met Chandmal Chopra, who also wrote to the Department of Home Government of West Bengal on March 16, 1985. But Chopra's letter, too, went unanswered. Chopra therefore filed a writ Petition in the High Court.
Chandmal Chopra's petition
Chandmal Chopra tried to obtain an order banning the Koran, by filing a Writ Petition at the Calcutta High Court on 29 March 1985. The petition claimed that Sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 95 of the Criminal Procedure Code were often used by Muslims to ban or proscribe publications critical of Islam, and stated that "so far it had been the privilege of the Peoples of the Book to ban and burn the sacred literature of the Pagans." Chandmal Chopra thought that the Koran "on grounds of religion promotes disharmony, feeling of enmity, hatred and ill-will between different religious communities and incite people to commit violence and disturb public tranquility..."
Chandmal Chopra also included a list of several dozens of Quran verses that "promote disharmony" in his petition. The book claims that these Quran verses embody one of the main themes of the book: "Nor have these passages been culled at random from different chapters of the Quran with a view to making the book sound sinister. On the contrary, they provide an almost exhaustive list of Allah’s sayings on a subject of great significance, namely, what the believers should believe about and do to the unbelievers..."
The Telegraph of May 9, 1985 reported that the Union Government would make itself a party in the case, and the Union law minister Ashoke Sen and the attorney-general of the Government of India were going to take action against the case. Muslim lawyers after a meeting condemned the case. According to The Telegraph of May 10, the Chief Minister of West Bengal called the petition "a despicable act". Other politicians in the Lok Sabha at New Delhi, and the Minister of State for Law condemned the Petition.
Pakistan’s minister of state for religious and minority affairs claimed that the petition was the ‘worst example of religious intolerance’, and he urged the Indian government to ‘follow the example of Pakistan’ in ensuring freedom of religion.
The petition was however dismissed in May 1985. The text of the judgment is included in the book. The Attorney-General of the Government of India and the Advocate-General of West Bengal appeared in the case and argued against Chopra's petition.
On June 18, 1985 Chandmal Chopra filed a review petition, which was dismissed on June 21.
The Statesman reported that "at least 12 people were killed and 100 wounded all are poor Hindus" in a border town of Bangladesh during a demonstration of 1000 people. In Dhaka, at least 20,000 Jamaat-i-Islami supporters demonstrated against the petition. The demonstrators were trying to storm the office of India's High Commission. Other riots followed in Kashmir and Bihar.
After the case was closed, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, during a mass rally in Srinagar, demanded action against Justice Padma Khastgir who permitted the petition to be filed. During this mass rally, one person was killed and others injured. A "hartal" (strike) against the interference in Muslim personal law was observed during which all shops and colleges were closed.
Sita Ram Goel
On August 31, 1987 Chandmal Chopra was arrested by the police and kept in police custody until September 8 for publishing with Goel this book on the petition. Sita Ram Goel had to abscond to avoid getting arrested.
The authors write in this book that they do "not stand for a ban on the publication of the Quran. We take this opportunity to state unambiguously that we regard banning of books, religious or otherwise, as counterproductive. In the case of the Quran, we believe and advocate that more and more non-Muslims should read it so that they know first hand the quality of its teachings."
The book was received with great interest in India and abroad, according to Goel. Goel also read primary Islamic sources like the Urdu translations of six Hadis during his research for this book. In one chapter, Goel also compares Genghis Khan, the Mongols and Tengiri with Islam.
Opinion of Media
The Times of India published three articles which praised the Quran during the Petition controversy. Goel claims that a rebuttal to these articles could not be published in the Times of India. Goel claims that the chief editor, Girilal Jain, regretted his inability to do so for reasons he could not reveal.
The book also gives an account of the banning of a poster that contained 24 citations from the Koran. In 1986, after the first edition of the "Calcutta Quran Petition" was published, a Hindi poster by Indra Sain Sharma and Rajkumar Arya was published by the Hindu Raksha Dal, Delhi. Indra Sain Sharma was the president of the Hindu Raksha Dal and the Vice-President of the All India Hindu Mahasabha. The poster cited 24 ayats from the Quran in Hindi.
The poster with the 24 Ayats also stated that:
- "Some Ayats of the Quran Majid command the believers (Musalmans) to fight against followers of other faiths. ... There are numerous (other) Ayats of the same sort. Here we have cited only twenty-four Ayats. Obviously, these Ayats carry commandments which promote enmity, ill-will, hatred, deception, fraud, strife, robbery and murder. That is why riots take place between Muslims and non-Muslims, in this country as well as [the rest of] the world. In the above-mentioned twenty-four Ayats of the Quran Majid, Musalmans are commanded to fight against followers of other faiths."
The publishers of the poster were arrested under Sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code. The metropolitan magistrate of Delhi Sh. Z.S.Lohat however discharged Sharma and R. Arya. He concluded on 31 July 1986, that the poster can "at the most be branded as a fair criticism" and that “with due regard to the holy book of ‘Quran Majeed’, a close perusal of the ‘Aytes’ shows that the same are harmful and teach hatred, and are likely to create differences between Mohammedans on one hand and the remaining communities on the other".
- Chandmal, Chopra; Ram, Goel, Sita; India), India. High Court (Calcutta (1 January 2012). The Calcutta Quran petition. Voice of India. ISBN 978-8185990583. OCLC 935213876.
- The Telegraph May 9, 1985. The Telegraph May 10, 1985.
- The Statesman 11 May 1985.
- The Telegraph, May 14, 1985
- "Quran Day: A legacy of blood and impunity | Progress Bangladesh". progressbangladesh.com. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
- Shaheb, Talukder (11 May 2015). "Quran Day: A legacy of blood and impunity". Talukder Shaheb's Blog. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
- The Statesman, May 13, 1985. May 10, 1985
- Preface to Third Edition of the Calcutta Quran Petition
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