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Delhi focus on "arrest of ideas"

Special Correspondent

Free expression being stifled, complain thinkers

NEW DELHI: An echo of the anger being expressed on the Internet over "arrest of ideas" in different parts of the country reflected recently by the detention of a publisher for selling books on Bhagat Singh, Marx and Lenin, and stoppage of a play dealing with the Mumbai mills will be heard at the India Social Forum beginning here in the Capital this coming week.

This was decided at a gathering of activists who have been agitating for the past fortnight over the detention of Delhi-based publisher Sunita Narayan and confiscation of books from her stall at the Chandrapur Book Fair in Maharashtra on October 15.

Though they have been individually expressing their anger over the manner in which free expression was being stifled either by the State machinery or "vigilantism of right-wing non-State actors" over the Internet, the India Social Forum has brought them together in the hope of using the platform it provides to link up with similar endeavours across the country and build up public opinion against such attacks.

The immediate provocation is the experience of Ms. Narayan, the owner of Daanish Books.

Narrating what happened to her at Chandrapur in Maharashtra, she said the police confiscated books authored by Clara Zetkin, Bhagat Singh, Che Guevara, Baburam Bhattarai, Li Onesto, Anand Swarup Verma and Vaskar Nandy, though not one of the texts seized was proscribed or declared offensive by any State agency.

According to Ms. Narayan, the police insisted that she was Sunita, the widow of a slain naxalite from Jehanabad, and refused to accept her word that her husband was alive and that she was a native of Bhagalpur. "When I insisted that they were mistaking me for someone else, the police said that they would prove that I was Sunita from Jehanabad."

Though she was allowed to go after three days of detention, The police have registered a case against her under Section 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

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