Bombay's international airport is named after Chhatrapati Shivaji Muharaj, a 17th century King of the Marathas of western India remembered in history for his fight against the Muslim Mughal rulers. That's one air terminal that should be avoided by Professor James W. Laine, the American author of a 2003 book on Shivaji. An Indian edition published last summer inflamed Hindu fanatics, culminating in January in the ransacking of a research institute Laine thanked in the book and the banning of the tome by the state of Maharashtra. Last week the state government pressed criminal charges against the Macalaster College professor, accusing him of "wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot."
Laine's sin? He wrote that local jokes hinted that Shivaji might have been the product of an illicit romance. His real misfortune was being a handy target in an election year: whipping up enmity against alleged Hindu bashers is a tried and true campaign tactic in India. Laine says he hasn't received the summons and although he considers India his second home, "I have no plan to go there in the near future—and certainly not to Maharashtra."