Media Blog

Democracies and Censorship

In a democracy, censorship starts off in the Canadian mode and ends up Indian style:

Hyderabad: Amid high drama, the editor and two journalists of a leading Telugu daily, Andhra Jyothi, were arrested on Tuesday night for publishing an allegedly offensive story on Dalit organisations and its leaders.

A police team, led by assistant commissioner of police Ramakrishnaiah, went to the daily’s office at Jubilee Hills and took its Editor K Srinivas and two journalists, Vamsi and Srinivas, into custody.
High drama and tension prevailed as the employees of the newspaper resisted the arrest move and raised slogans against the Congress government and Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy.
The police said the arrests were made by invoking the provisions of the stringent Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act following publication of a lead story in the second largest circulated daily of Andhra Pradesh last month that criticised unnamed Dalit leaders and their organisations.
The police team had a heated argument with the newspaper’s managing director V Radhakrishna and other staffers over the arrest.
The entire staff came out to voice their protest, squatted on the staircase and tried to prevent the police from taking away their colleagues.
Condemning the arrests, Radhakrishna said, “This is a gross misuse of SC/ST Act.”
He said, “Already our office has been attacked and now our journalists are arrested. After this, what fundamental rights do we journalists have?”.

The next time you hear about hate-crimes laws in the United States, which criminalize opinions rather than actions, think about Mark Steyn in the dock in Canada or these three Indian journalists — all of whom reside in democracies and all of whom are being punished for having unpopular opinions.

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