ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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'Killing the Messengers'

Your editorial “Killing the Messengers” (EPW, 11 July) on the threats to journalists is a severe indictment of the unofficial censorship rampant in the media today. As you rightly observed, 40 years after the official censorship of the press during the Emergency, the media has become more vulnerable to diverse threats and pressures with a view to preventing the facts from reaching readers. The most vulnerable, as tragically established by the death of Jagendra Singh, are the media personnel of the smaller towns where strong forces operate to muzzle any voice that will expose the weak underbelly of the politicians, self-styled godmen and fundamentalists.

As a long-time resident of Mangalore, among the many cases of such censorship being invoked through the machinery of the state, two recent cases merit mention. B V Seetaram (editor of Karavali Ale, a small local newspaper), his wife and a senior staffer of the paper were arrested in November 2012. The allegation was that the paper had published an article on the spectacle of a jain muni marching along with his devotees; the muni was a digambara. The writing, according to the complainants, was disparaging to the muni and hence hurt the sentiments of a community. A charge of sedition was slapped on Seetaram; he was handcuffed and produced before courts amidst tight security. How can an article criticising a religious practice be an act of sedition? Should he be handcuffed?

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