//Hoot report says 52 censorship cases in India during Jan-Mar

Hoot report says 52 censorship cases in India during Jan-Mar

12 April 2014

New Delhi: “Saffron intolerance” and acts of censorship across media platforms—including films, books, news telecasts and social media—continued to rise in India in 2014, with 52 instances recorded in the first three months of the year as opposed to 48 in the same period a year ago, according to media affairs website thehoot.org.

“Consistently, groups have been successful in censoring and putting pressure on government agencies to act on content that they deem as uncomfortable. That seems to be the trend that we are seeing,” said Geeta Seshu, consulting editor, The Hoot.
According to a Hoot study titled “Free Speech in India 2014”, protests by Hindu groups triggered censorship of books, films and performances in as many as 12 different instances—up from seven in first quarter 2013.

The case that attracted the most attention was the decision by Penguin Books India to withdraw Wendy Doniger’s book, “The Hindus: An Alternative History” after protests by a Hindu group.

Among 14 instances of censorship imposed by the state and its agencies, the study included a Lok Sabha television blackout of unruly parliamentary proceedings in February 2014.

On February 17, Lok Sabha TV’s live telecast of parliamentary proceedings was switched off just as home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde began speaking at 3pm when the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Bill was taken up for consideration.
Claiming the Bill had been passed “democratically”, the Lok Sabha secretariat said the disruption in telecast was being probed. “Lok Sabha proceedings couldn’t be telecast live due to technical reasons,” its statement said. But the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj said the lack of live coverage was a “tactical glitch”, not a technical one, a view supported by leaders of other opposition parties.
“Apart from the fact that saffron intolerance has become much more aggressive. We have also tracked self-censorship this quarter,” said Seshu.

The unprecedented pulling out of Santosh Sivan’s Tamil film “Inam” from theatres at the end of March 2014, following protests by Tamil groups was an alarming reminder of street censorship, according to the report.