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Vigilante groups, non-state actors seeking to impose censorship through hooliganism: NAPM

Medha Patkar
By Our Representative
The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), the apex body of tens of people's organisations across India, has noticed sharp upsurge of “hate and fundamentalism” and “outright suppression of the right to free speech and expression” in the new year, 2015, pointing towards how “vigilante groups and non-state actors” are seeking to impose “censorship through hooliganism and assertive fundamentalist voices in the name of nationalism with the tacit support of the state.”
Asking the authorities to immediately put a stop to this, the NAPM in a statement has said, .the “overtly hate mongering actions of the fundamentalist groups” need to be strongly condemned, as these are “trying to hijack and force public views and discourses and jeopardize the tolerant and understanding fabric of multi-cultural, geopolitical land called India.”
Pointing towards how this is happening, the NAPM, which is led by Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar, the NAPM has particularly pointed towards how in Kolkata, on the evening of January 31, 2015, members of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, resorted to “hooliganism and agitation” against Bangladesh and eventually forced the shutting down of the stall by the Department of Tourism of Bangladesh at the ongoing Kolkata International Book Fair.
“The issue was regarding the sale of a tourist map which showed parts of Kashmir within the boarders of Pakistan. While the map may be an issue to raise questions or even democratically agitate, the way the entire Book Fair was hijacked by this hooliganism was undemocratic. Hate mongering through repeated shouting of slogans such as ‘Bangladesh Murdabad’ was clearly an attempt to shame the very notion of democracy”, it pointed out.
Giving other instances, the statement said, “This republic day, the advertisement by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting portrayed an outdated version of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution when the words socialist and secular were not inserted by the 42nd amendment. Some of the fundamentalists have also openly endorsed this error on the part of the ministry saying that India is not a secular country.”
“On the same day”, the statement said, “There was a so-called public uproar regarding the issue of vice president of the country not saluting in the republic day ceremony when the flag was being hoisted. The public debate and the media attention forced the vice president to issue an official statement stating that his actions were guided by proper protocol. The irony of situation is that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has not yet issued any clarification.”
The situation has reached a past that, according to NAPM, the country is witnessing “the death of the ‘author’ Perumal Murugan” this year, when his book “Mathorubhagaarp” was opposed for allegedly portraying the Kailasanathar temple in Tiruchengode and women devotees in bad light and demands of his arrest were made. Not just the author was made to delete all controversial portions and submit written apologies, he was also forced to leave his home town and he has now decided to give up writing altogether.”

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