Protest for Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression – A Report
Mahatma Gandhi Statue, M G Road, Bengaluru | 12th Mar 2019, 5:0 PM
Under the banner of Grama Seva Sangha, well known activists, writers, and artists did a protest opposing the ongoing assault of Freedom of Speech on individuals, community and the groups who speak about Government actions, plans and wrong doings. Freedom fighter H.S.Doreswamy, writer Bolwar Mohammed Kunhi, poet Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy, actor and director B.Suresh, journalist Suguta Sreenivasraju, Actor Prakash Raj, Artist Gouri Dutt, Mentors of Gram Seva Sangha G.K.Suresh, Shamala Devi, G.S.R .Krishnan, Sanath Kumar, Secretary Abhilash, Phaneesh and others participated in the protest.
On this occasion, dignitaries have shared their opinions as follows.
B.Suresh: What we are facing in the last few days is the situation of 1975 emergency. Blocking social media accounts and sending people jail if they analyze the plus & minus of government policies or if artists wrote cartoons indicates that a country is caught with cancer disease. The assault on cartoonist P.Mohammed, sufferings of Ravi Kumar and the words spoken by the government in the case of N.Ram of The Hindu newspaper shows that all these incidents are similar to the assault made on various political parties at the time of 1975 emergency. Public should became aware and continuously oppose these to save our fundamental Right of Freedom of Speech. We might be jailed for talking like this, and then our next generation should say these words. This should happen as a continuous movement.
Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy: Voltaire has said that “I might not agree your words but I respect the Right of Freedom to say your words, that is your lifelong Right” which is very relevant now. Recently the literature award given to the Dalit Professor Ravikant of Lucknow has been taken back for writing against the government in social media. All government employees have opposed this decision. We have reached such a low situation. State which doesn’t have Press Freedom and Freedom of Speech is not democratic.
H.S.Doreswamy: Government is behaving like we are doing wrong if we oppose government by making a group, organizing a meeting or sharing information to people. When certain individuals or government makes mistakes, it is necessary to unfold secret information. That is Press Dharma. It is very necessary from Public interest. If the press information is true, then it is the Press Dharma to keep the source of information secret. The Hindu newspaper has done a big job. There is no need to reveal the source of information if it is true.
Suguta Sreenivasaraju: In recent days, many laws against journalists have been misused. It is an effort to suppress journalist voice. All of us know how the Official Secrets Act has been misused in the case of The Hindu newspaper. The National Security Act has been misused on Imphal Manipur journalist Kishorechandra and he has been not released from jail. In the recent meeting held at Editor Guilds where I was also present, A resolution was made on “Decriminalizing content”. Recently, we could see this on how Shillong Times editor was penalized by High Court on account of Contempt of Court. Colonial Laws has been removed in many countries. But in our country such laws has been used against journalist & activists for harassing.
Prakash Raj: We have reached such a situation where we could easily identify which political it belongs if we switch on a channel or read a newspaper. In Vikram-Bethala stories, it was said that if we say a lie our head would cut into thousand pieces. But now if we say a lie, it is behaved like thousand votes would come. The government which is not able to protect Rafale documents is saying criminal to people who are following Press Dharma. It is like saying “fence itself is gazing the land”. But people would be observing. When it crosses a limit, we have seen in history that progressive people, artists have stood up and will stand up. People consciousness is still alive. This might be a small voice but it is the voice of truth. Hence it would be heard loudly.
Gram Seva Sangh
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