Dalit activists are protesting Roy’s introduction to B.R. Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste that they say has needless comparisons to Gandhi

Controversy is brewing over author and social activist Arundhati Roy’s visit to Hyderabad on Sunday to mark the launch of an annotated edition of B.R. Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste. A section of Dalit activists from the city are demanding a ban on the book and are planning protests at the launch venues.

Two events are being organised in this connection on Sunday – one at Sundarayya Vignana Kendra in the morning, and another at La Makaan towards evening.

Published by Navayana publications, the critical edition has an introduction penned by Ms.Roy, titled The Doctor and the Saint, where Mahatma Gandhi finds a prominent mention along with Ambedkar. This has not gone down well with some.

“The book is extremely important for Dalits and it not right to add footnotes to the book. We feel Arundhati Roy has diluted Ambedkar’s writing and there is every chance that the book might be misinterpreted.

Roy has always been a Maoist sympathiser and has never been vocal on Dalit atrocities. So with that understanding, how can she write a foreword for the book?” asked J. Srinivas, State co-convenor for the Dalit Shakti programme, and a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Hyderabad.

Renowned author and lawyer Bojja Tarakam, who will be the guest at the event, also plans to raise objections regarding the content.

“Most of the preface is about Gandhi, rather than Ambedkar. What is the need to write so much about him?” Mr. Tarakam said.

However, he opposed any kind of curbs on the release of the book and felt it should be released in order to facilitate healthy discussion on the subject.

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