The censorship cases
included in the report were trained on books, newspapers, films, social
media (Facebook) posts, telecasts, and the exhibiting of films and
staging of plays.
The report marks the
of the Lok Sabha (LS) TV on February 17, 2014, when the AP
Reorganization Bill was taken up for consideration, as the worst among
all cases of censorship. The channel was switched off during the final
moments of voting in the Parliament to create a new state, the state of
Quoting the statements
of LS secretariat that said "LS proceedings couldn't be telecast live
due to technical reasons" and the statement of the leader of the
opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, who said that the lack of
live coverage was a "tactical glitch", not a technical one, the report
holds Lok Sabha Secretariat responsible for keeping the important events
Taking into account
specific incidents occurred in the first three months of this year, the
report brings out the cases of highhandedness by right wing groups to
intimidate and attack publishers, performers, social media users and,
even, persons from the press.
“Hindu groups of
different kinds triggered censorship of books, films and performances in
as many as 12 different incidents,” says the report.
“The case that attracted
the most attention was the
of Penguin Books to withdraw Wendy Doniger’s controversial book, The
Hindus,” the report highlights.
Such a decision from
Penguin encouraged the group called Shiksha Bachao Andolan, based in
Naraina Vihar in New Delhi, to target another publisher, Aleph, which
had published a book by the same author On Hinduism. Though the
publisher said it would not succumb, its offices directed the
withdrawal of copies from bookstores in Bangalore.
The report by the Free
Speech Hub also takes into account the cases of films fighting bans on
screening citing that three of these have been at the behest of right
wing or pro-Hindutva groups. In support of its claims, the report
includes the cases of two documentaries 'The Gujarat Promise’ and ‘Ocean
of Tears’ and one movie ‘Ragini MMS2.’ All the three films faced the ire
of right wing groups.
spilled over onto news media as the Dwarka Shankaracharya slapped a
journalist because he was annoyed at his uncomfortable questions about
Modi while RSS workers
magazine’s offices for publishing an interview with Samjhauta blast
accused Aseemanand,” the report said.
Citing as example the
two separate petitions came up before the Supreme Court urging action
against hate speech, prompting a
from the apex court to get the Law Commission to prepare guidelines on
the issue, the report mentions that the intolerant groups and
individuals, sometimes, take judicial rout seeking bans on books, films
and hate speech regulation.
Even whistleblowers are
not spared. “The Madras High Court banned a
whistleblower website Savukku, run by Achimuthu Shankar, reportedly
because of its publication of some of the 2G tapes,” the report cites.
the media continued with impunity as police, in separate instances, beat
up journalists covering protests in West Bengal and in Imphal, the media
was also targeted by
militant student groups
and the police in separate incidents in the North-East.
Apart from recording
instances of cyber censorship and attacks on the media, the Free Speech
Tracker has also recorded a number of instances of self-censorship, a
disturbing trend that bodes ill for free speech.
surveillance, phone interceptions and blocks on websites were still the
order of the day,” the report concludes saying that “India was amongst
the five countries throughout the world to block websites, Verizon
February this year while India’s Centre for Development of Telematics
was named an ‘enemy’ of
the Internet by media freedom group, Reporters without Borders.”