The Bombay High Court asking activist Vernon Gonsalves, accused of inciting violence in Maharashtra's Koregaon Bhima in December 2017, why he kept "objectionable material such as books like War and Peace", according to news agency PTI, has stirred up thousands of reactions on Twitter. The hashtag #WarAndPeace has been trending for most part of the afternoon today.
During a hearing on Wednesday of the violence in Koregaon Bhima, which the police alleged was incited by the activist and others, the Pune Police read out the titles of several books and CDs allegedly recovered from Mr Gonsalves' house, which included "War and Peace", a voluminous book considered the best work of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy.
The over 1,100-page-long novel by the Russian writer was cited by the Pune Police as part of the "highly incriminating evidence" it had seized from Mr Gonsalves' house in Mumbai during raids a year ago.
"Truly bizarre that somebody is being asked by a judge of the Bombay High Court to explain why he has copy of Tolstoy's War & Peace, a true classic. And to think Tolstoy was a major influence on the Mahatma. Welcome to New India," former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh tweeted.
Truly bizarre that somebody is being asked by a judge of the Bombay High Court to explain why he has copy of Tolstoy's War & Peace, a true classic. And to think Tolstoy was a major influence on the Mahatma.— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) August 29, 2019
Welcome to New India!
Former diplomat KC Singh tweeted, "When ruling dispensation encourages anti-science/rational discourse even judiciary will reflect same. Assumption is if author is Russian must've been a communist. What absurdity? Leo Tolstoy was a Nobel & Count who died before Russian revolution."
When ruling dispensation encourages anti-science/rational discourse even judiciary will reflect same. Assumption is if author is Russian must've been a communist. What absurdity? Leo Tolstoy was a Nobel & Count who died before Russian revolution. https://t.co/kDOf2Y3tuu— K. C. Singh (@ambkcsingh) August 28, 2019
Many people tweeted a video of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a library, flipping through the pages of a thick book that appears to be War and Peace.
Supreme Court advocate Karuna Nundy tweeted a quote from War and Peace: "We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace."
We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.— Karuna Nundy (@karunanundy) August 28, 2019
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
War and Peace, published as a series first and then in its entirety in 1869, tells the stories of five Russian aristocratic families through multiple wars between the period 1805 and 1820.
Encyclopaedia Britannica introduces its English literature category with a reference to War and Peace. "It can be argued that no single English novel attains the universality of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace or the French writer Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary," Encyclopaedia Britannica says.
The Pune Police alleges that provocative speeches made at an event on December 31, 2017 were responsible for violence around Koregaon Bhima the next day during an event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. One person was killed and others were injured in the violence. The police are probing alleged Maoist links in organising the event. Other arrested accused include activists and academics Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, and Gautam Navlakha.
Mr Gonsalves' lawyer Mihir Desai told the Bombay High Court on Wednesday that Pune Police based the entire case against him on the basis of some emails and letters recovered from the computers of other people. "None of these letters or emails were written by Gonsalves, or were addressed to him. Therefore, in the absence of any cogent incriminating evidence against him, Gonsalves shouldn't be denied bail," Mr Desai said.
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