Saturday, March 1, 2008

Editor Released, and Publication Gets the Ban Order

IT TOOK a huge public agitation to force the authorities to release People’s March editor P Govindan Kutty form jail. After in judicial custody for 66 days since his arrest on December 19, he was released on bail on February 23, 2008. Justice R Basanth of Kerala High Court, ordered his release on bail on a bond of Rs. 100,000 and two sureties of equal amounts.

And just four days later came the new order: The monthly publication, People’s March, has been banned by the District Collector of Ernakulam, through an executive order dated February 28, 2008. The order was issued on a recommendation of the Police Assistant Commissioner, Trikkakkara, which said the publication was promoting anti-national propaganda.

The order takes the struggle for democratic rights and right to free expression in Kerala to a new and urgent stage. Surprisingly, the response from the media and general public has been mute, no one has taken up the issue of the ban on the publication to the public sphere so far, may be everybody is busy with the budget and their bonanza.

Govindan Kutty had been on an indefinite fast ever since his arrest and had to be admitted to Thrissur Medical College hospital for administering liquid food. His arrest had raised a major debate in media circles as he was charged with anti-national activities mainly on the basis of an article he wrote defending the Naxalite attack on the life of Chandrababu Naidu, Andhra Chief Minister, in 2003.

On his release, Govindan Kutty told media that he would continue his struggle. He said he was arrested as he exposed the unjust social system and the draconian measures of the state. “I would continue to write the way I did,” he said.

He said the new edition of People’s March, to be released shortly, would focus on the issue of his arrest and the problems raised by it. In his absence O Ajayan had taken over as editor of the monthly. It appears that he and the Kerala public has another battle on hand, to protect one’s democratic right to say what one thought was right.

(Devil's Sermon is a regular political commentary.)

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