Instances of censorship on the rise: The Hoot

Censorship across the country is on the rise with as many as 52 instances being recorded in the first quarter of 2014. Releasing data on censorship for the first three months of this year, media watch group, The Hoot, said this averaged a little less than one a day.

The agents against free expression were not just the state or fringe groups. The list is fairly long and includes courts, student organisations, State governments, publishing houses, the Lok Sabha Secretariat, the Central Board of Film Certification, a lawyers’ association, Hindu groups — including the Shiv Sena, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Hindu Jan Jagruti Samiti — the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, Tamil groups and individual industrialists.

Under attack were books, newspapers, films, Facebook posts, telecasts, staging of plays and the exhibition of films. As per The Hoot’s Free Speech Hub Tracker, the most “newsworthy” blackout was by the Lok Sabha Secretariat of the discussion on the contentious Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill.

The Hoot also flags the invocation of the colonial vintage sedition law against 67 Kashmiri students of a Meerut-based university for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan slogans during an India-Pakistan cricket match. Another highlight of the list is the withdrawal of American Indologist Wendy Doniger’s books by two publishers — Penguin and Aleph — after a Delhi-based group, the Shiksha Bachao Andolan (SBA), objected to them on the ground that they included derogatory references about Hinduism.

While Penguin withdrew Ms. Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternate History from India after pursuing the case filed by the SBA for a couple of years, the Aleph Book Company agreed to do the same with her book, On Hinduism, after it was threatened with legal action.

Also, according to The Hoot, the first quarter saw several films contesting bans on screening, three of them at the behest of “right wing or pro-Hindutva groups.” In one instance, in which RSS workers stopped the screening of the Kashmiri documentary film, Ocean of Tears, in Thrissur, Kerala, the police removed the protesters from the theatre hall. But in the same district, a Dalit musician was barred from performing at the famous Guruvayoor Temple. In Mumbai, Shiv Sainiks stopped a press conference by a Pakistani Sufi music group.

The list also includes an attack on the Caravan magazine’s offices for publishing an interview with Samjhauta Express blast accused Aseemanand, besides industrialist Shiv Nadar and Union Minister Praful Patel who succeeded in stopping the publication of uncomfortable biographies.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 2:54:00 AM |

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