BHUBANESWAR: Senior Congress leader of Odisha Niranjan Patnaik has sent a legal notice to Sudhanshu Vats, Group Chief Executive Officer, Viacom 18 Media Private Limited for distorting history and insulting people of Odisha through the controversial serial “Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat” being telecast on Colors TV channel.
Patnaik has issued the notice from his lawyers to Sudhanshu Vats, owners of Colors TV Channel for broadcasting the controversial serial “Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat” demanding an apology for distorting history and insulting people of Odisha.
The legal notice has been issued by a Delhi-based law firm and demanded Colours insert a suitable scroll in the serial within seven days apologising for the error or “to face appropriate legal proceedings both civil and criminal before appropriate courts of law in India”.
Niranjan argued that he respects freedom of expression, which includes creative expression in different art forms and believes that freedom of expression also includes the freedom to offend. But, the depiction in the TV serial is contrary to 250 years of research and writing on Emperor Ashoka, the king without sorrows, undoubtedly the greatest ruler in Indian history and is cheap and scurrilous.
The people of Odisha take justifiable pride in the fact that the brave people of Kalinga had refused to surrender against the might of the Maury, an ruler and had shown great heroism causing a blood bath that transformed Ashoka into accepting Buddhism and spreading the message of peace and ‘dharma’ in his own territory as well as across the world. This is an important chapter in Odisha’s history and part of the state’s heritage that all true Odisha take pride in, said Patnaik.
He said the events and characters as depicted in the serial is a bogus dramatisation that has no basis in any published research or writing.
“The age and time of King Ashoka are well documented by eminent historians, and there are endless amounts of research available especially from major sources of Ashoka a history, i.e. Indian, Sri Lankan, Chinese, Burmese, Tibetan and Greek, which have been successfully cross-referenced over the last two centuries,” said the senior Congress leader.
Besides, there is now a huge body of archaeological evidence in the form of major and minor edicts written in Brahmi script, including the ones in Dhauli and Jaugada, which are well known. The makers of the serial have not even referred widely to read authors on Ashoka like Romila Thapar and Charles Allen, he added.
Niranjan said such “representation might also amount to re-writing of history in the popular imagination for which you absolutely lack any competence.”
There is no basis, research, source for such scurrilous misrepresentation except the desire to make commercial gains and in the process unnecessarily insult the sensibilities and pride of the people of Odisha by distorting what is accepted by the entire world as history.
What is the basis of such depiction, asks Niranjan.
“Artistic freedom and creativity need to be respected, but in no part of the civilised world do creative people take unnecessary liberty with long-standing historical facts and show such high level of incompetence and insensitivity in handling historical subjects and expect to get away with it,” said Patnaik.