Tag Archives: freedom of expression

A Statement against Suppression of Dissent by IACLALS

We are publishing below a statement sent to us by the Indian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies against the suppression and criminalizing of dissent in India

The Indian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (IACLALS) expresses its deep dismay over the continuing assault on civic freedoms and constitutional rights of writers, teachers, students, human rights activists and public intellectuals in the country. The current political climate of fear and intimidation – fuelled and vindicated by the state and the ruling party – has simultaneously targetted entire communities through a range of religious-ethnic violence, as much as it has sought to silence conscientious voices that have spoken up against such onslaughts. Vacuous rhetorical constructions like “anti-national” and “urban naxal” – with no basis in fact or in principles of democratic governance – have been repeatedly manufactured as the grounds for punitive-legal action and media trials, through the invoking of outdated colonial codes like the sedition laws. The latest of these forms of orchestrated witch-hunt has seen the attempted arrest or chargesheeting of Hiren Gohain, Anand Teltumbde and of several JNU students – in the cause of raking up an electoral consensus against the spirit of scientific inquiry and free-thinking.

The IACLALS’ academic investments have engaged with and gained from the works and ideas of these scholars, who now face the ire of the state. As a scholarly association, we believe in the need and power of a critical public sphere, as the only promise of a living democracy. We stand in firm solidarity with them, and strongly condemn every attempt being made at gagging forms of dissent and enforcing regimes of censorship.

Pondicherry University, Feb. 8, 2019.

GJV Prasad (Chariperson), Subhendu Mund and M. Asaduddin (Vice Chairpersons), Rina Ramdev (Secretary), Angelie Multani (Treasurer)


A Theatre Olympics that Isn’t: Arundhati Ghosh


Image courtesy Deccan Herald

I have been working for the past 16 years with a small organisation called India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) that attempts to support arts and culture projects across the country. In these years I have been fortunate enough to travel across the country to big cities and small ones, towns and villages where arts practitioners and scholars work intensely, passionately, with almost no economic resources or social acknowledgements. The percentage of our total national budget outlay to the arts and culture is negligible as is the amount that finally gets spent on it. The state of our national arts and culture institutions is abysmal and much has been written by eminent experts critiquing the vision, mandates, policies and mechanisms of funding or the lack of any of these prerequisites to support the sector with an imagination that attempts to build a robust, vibrant ecology for the arts.

Continue reading A Theatre Olympics that Isn’t: Arundhati Ghosh

Are Students at their Work? Prashant Kumar


Students who are protesting across the country are being charged that they are not doing what they are supposed to do. What I understand this charge say is that they are not doing their “duties” or fulfilling their “responsibilities” as a student. I seriously doubt thislimited understanding of being a “student”. To say this, I feel an intellectual burden to explicate what it means to be a student. I will argue that these students are also the one who, contrary to the charge, does their “duties” and carries out their “responsibilities”.

Generally speaking, anyone who tries to learn and reflect upon what he learnt can be considered as a student. However, one becomes a student technically when he does this job within an academic institution. In this sense, studentship is a job to get mature with the help of institutional academic training(s) as well as reflecting back on these. Maturity, as I discern, is nothing but to understand the real meaning of a world, and act according to this apprehension. In this sense, understanding and acting go together. Lack of one will categorically destruct the purpose of a student.

There is one more aspect of this maturity with relation to, what Kant terms, enlightenment. Continue reading Are Students at their Work? Prashant Kumar

No Country for Free Speech : Shiv Inder Singh

Guest Post by Shiv Inder Singh

freedom of expression के लिए चित्र परिणाम

(Photo courtesy : humanrightshouse.org)

In an open letter, Mr Shiv Inder Singh, an independent overseas journalist from Punjab, claims that he lost his job owing to his criticism of PM Modi’s government. 

Dear Sir/ Madam,

I am an independent journalist based in Punjab, India. I have been associated with the media industry for the past fifteen years. My work experience includes the time period of five years as an overseas’ contributor for Canada-based radio stations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. In that capacity I have been giving daily news updates and political commentary on India at these radio channels.

I want to bring to your knowledge that the Vancouver-based Radio Red (93.1) FM for which I have been working since October 2014 has arbitrarily suspended my services due to political interference which amounts to trampling of freedom of expression. Continue reading No Country for Free Speech : Shiv Inder Singh


The statement below represents the concerns of JNU’s international alumni, and a wider global academic community of friends and comrades. The support demonstrated by the names below testifies that JNU is far more than a besieged university campus in India. JNU stands for a vital imagination of the space of the university – an imagination that embraces critical thinking, democratic dissent, student activism, and the plurality of political beliefs. It is this critical imagination that the current establishment seeks to destroy. And we know that this is not a problem for India alone. Similar attacks on critical dissent and university spaces are being attempted and resisted across the world.

If you would like to stand in solidarity with the students and faculty of JNU, and the ethos of university spaces everywhere, please mention your name and current institutional affiliation in the ‘Comments’ section. Also, in case you are a JNU alumnus, please mention the year you graduated. This list will be regularly updated.


We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with the students, faculty and staff of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi against the illegal ongoing police action since February 9, 2016. With them, we affirm the autonomy of the university as a non-militarized space for freedom of thought and expression. Accordingly, we condemn police presence on campus and the harassment of students on the basis of their political beliefs.

The charge of sedition, under the guise of which the police have been given a carte blanche to enter the JNU campus, to raid student hostels, arrest and detain students, including Kanhaiya Kumar, the current president of the JNU Students Union, is an alibi for the incursion of an authoritarian regime onto the university campus. Under Indian law sedition applies only to words and actions that directly issue a call to violence. The peaceful demonstration and gathering of citizens does not constitute criminal conduct. The police action on JNU campus is illegal under the constitution of India.

An open, tolerant, and democratic society is inextricably linked to critical thought and expression cultivated by universities in India and abroad. As teachers, students, and scholars across the world, we are watching with extreme concern the situation unfolding at JNU and refuse to remain silent as our colleagues (students, staff, and faculty) resist the illegal detention and autocratic suspension of students. We urge the Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University to protect members of the university community and safeguard their rights.


Dated/- 15 February 2016


  1. Asma Abbas, Bard College at Simon’s Rock
  2. Syed Shahid Abbas, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, U.K.
  3. Gilbert Achcar, SOAS, University of London
  4. Katie Addleman, University of Toronto
  5. Barun Adhikary, JNU

On keeping Open the Door that was Opened by Dr. Malleshappa Kalburgi

On Sunday morning, seventy seven year old scholar Dr. Malleshappa Kalburgi opened his door in Dharwad town in Karnataka to some people who asked for ‘sir’. They pumped bullets into ‘sir’ when he appeared in front of them. Throughout his life, Dr. Kalburgi had the habit of opening doors. His scholarship into Kannada literature opened many doors. Those who killed Kalburgi abused not just his hospitality, and his willingness to open his doors to strangers (he had asked that his security be ‘lifted’ despite threats to his life), they abused all the traditions in the world that promise kindness to strangers, and keep doors open.

Continue reading On keeping Open the Door that was Opened by Dr. Malleshappa Kalburgi

Appeal to Release Raif Badawi, a Saudi Blogger: Peoples Alliance for Democracy and Secularism

Guest Post by Peoples Alliance for Democracy and Secularism


The Ambassador,
Embassy of Saudi Arabia at New Delhi,
2- Pachchimi Marg, VasantVihar,!
New Delhi-110057  Fax: 00911126144244

This is an appeal regarding Raif Badawi, a blogger and Saudi citizen, founder of the website ‘Free Saudi Liberals’. Mr Badawi has been under arrest since 2012 for insulting Islam and apostasy. He was sentenced to be punished with 10 years in prison along with 1000 lashes (50 lashes to be received on every Friday) and a fine of one million riyals. Though he was cleared of charges of apostasy in 2013, there are new reports that indicate he may be tried again under the same charge.

We are mindful that India and Saudi Arabia have long-standing friendly political and commercial relations and that large numbers of Indians live and work in your country. It is because of this that we feel constrained to convey to you our concerns. Raif Badawi is a public intellectual who communicated his thoughts to the public through a blog. We do not believe that any of its contents constituted a threat to the state. To the contrary, his advocacy for secularism and the separation of religion and state is a suggestion that would strengthen it.

Whether or not his ideas are pleasing to your government, the fact remains that as a member state of the United Nations, Saudi Arabia is presumed to be respectful of the freedom of speech that is provided for under Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. This article states: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers‘.

The sharing of information and ideas is a basic human practice and natural right that should be available to everyone regardless of their nationality or identity and (barring extremist incitement) should not be restricted by law. The state should protect and promote our rights instead of restricting them.

It has been reported that Raif Badawi received the first set of lashes on 9 January, after Friday prayers outside the Al-Juffali Mosque in Jeddah. The next round of punishment has been suspended on medical grounds to give his wounds time to heal prior to wounding him again. We consider this an example of barbaric cruelty, not befitting any member state of the UNO. Such practices are a travesty of justice and will bring you only disrepute.

We are Indian citizens who speak for human rights both within our own country and beyond. We are in solidarity with Raif Badawi and all those demanding freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia. We condemn the inhuman punishment being meted out to him as we condemn all measures that punish people for defending human rights and sharing their thoughts

We ask that Saudi Arabia:
•  Immediately suspend the punishment of Raif Badawi,
•  Release Raif Badawi and provide him security,
•  Take measures towards the provision of full freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia

Submitted by:

Ravi Nitesh, Peoples Alliance for Democracy and Secularism
, Dipak Dholakia
, Rajashri Dasgupta, 
Prithvi R Sharma, 
Rana P Behal, 
Shamsul Islam, 
Suman Keshari, 
Aseem Shrivastava, 
Viren Lobo
, Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, Kashif Ahmed Faraz, R.Sasankan, Journalist, Delhi , Rohit Sharma, Pilani, India
, Mandeep Singh from Revolutionary Youth Student Front
, Firoz Ahmad, Public School Teacher
, Chaman Lal, 
, Devika Mittal (Mission Bhartiyam), 
, Sudha Vasan
, Dheeraj Gaba, 
Nawed Akhter, 
Dilip Simeon , Shabnam Hashmi, Rohini Hensman 
Ovais Sultan Khan, Ram Puniyani, Vinerjeet Kaur, Kiran Shaheen
, Battini Rao, Convener, Peoples Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS)
, Javed Anand
, Harsh Kapoor
, Subash Mohapatra, Global Human Rights Communications, Bhubaneswar 
Sagar Rabari, Ahmedabad
, Nayanjyoti
, Shailendra Dhar, Journalist, Nihal Parashar
, Linus Ayangwoh 
Embe, Peter Marshall , Sudarshan Juyal
, Dhruv Singhal (Political Science student), 
Mohammad Imran, NRISAHI, Suresh Bhat
, Prof. S Ratnagar, Mumbai
, Ilma Iqbal
, Michael Karadjis
, Vasantharajan, Research Scholar , Rabin Chakraborty, 
Shruti Arora
, Hiren Gandhi, 
Anand Patwardhan, Dr. D. Gabriele, Mukul Mangalik, Neeraj Malik, academic, 
Suhas Borker
, Virginia Saldanha, Mumbai , Kasim Sait
, Waliullah Ahmed Laskar
, Kaveri Rajaraman, University of Hyderabad, 
Parth Sarthu
, Mahesh Elkunchwar,  
Suman Kumar , Kamayani Bali Mahabal, 
Syed Ghazanfar Abbas, Jawad Mohammed
, Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Shiksha Adhikar Manch, Bhopal
Satya Pal, Secretary General – South Asian Fraternity 
Deepak Kabir / Veena Rana, Dastak, Lucknow 
Madhu Sarin
, Kavita Panjabi, Kolkata
, Xavier Dias Editor, Khan Kaneej aur ADHIKAR ,Jharkhand India , Muhammad Murad, from Pakistan, Sindh
, Sanjay Halder
, Gurpreet Singh, Ravi Tripathi, Francis Gonsalves
, Subhash Gatade, New Socialist Initiative, 
Shahid Siddiqui
, P.I. Jose, 
Ishwarbhai Prajapati, 
Deepak Kabir
, Fr. T.K.John , Professor 
Rohan Dandavate – TPI WORD, Daniel Varghese
, Sanjay T , Prasanth Menon
, Zakia Soman and Dr. Noorjehan SN from Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan , Antony Aruloraj, New Delhi, India, 
Aarti Tikoo
, Ashish Biswas, Online Journalist, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 
Devaki Khanna, 
Alok Chadha
, Renu Singh, Samir Dholakia, Mushtaq Dar
, Narinder Singh Sandhu, 
P R Vaidya, Bombay
, Dr V Prasad
, Ameeque Jamei
, Padma Velaskar, Bhanu Bharti, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Delhi
, M.Balanna, PADS, Andhra Pradesh
, Ajay Kumar, PADS Andhra Pradesh
, Roja Ramani Mahila Sravanti, Kurnool