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Sabrang
Is the ban democratic India’s easy adjustment with intolerance?
It began in the 1950s
Long before Wendy Donniger’s work, The Hindus-An Alternate History was pulped (2014) as Penguin India succumbed to unreasonable demands by the Shiksha Bachao Andolan deaded by Dinanath Batra…..
  • Aubrey Menon's O Rama is targeted for fundamentalist attack by Hindu chauvinist sections in India (1950s)
  • The Last Temptation of Christ, a fictionalised critique of the Biblical version is the target of fury by the Christian orthodoxy, many western countries forced to ban/restrict viewing; in India too, there are protests demanding a ban. (1960s).
  • Jesus Christ Superstar, another fictionalised biography of Jesus, on the stage and films is similarly targeted. (1970s)
The aggressive bans of the 1980s
Even before the Indian government succumbed to the demand for a ban on Salman Rushdie’s satanic Verses, the Prithvi theatre Mumbai was the scene of an aggressive protest from the Hindu Mahasabha…..
  • Shakepeare ki Ramayana, a play scripted by Iqbal Khwaja and staged in Bombay is disrupted by Vikram Savarkar of the Hindu Mahasabha, the playwright forced to touch Savarkar's feet in forgiveness; the play is never performed again. (1987).
  • Mohammed, the Idiot, the title given to a short story in the Deccan Chronicle generates such rage from Muslims in Hyderabad that offices of the newspaper are attacked and set ablaze. (1987)
  • Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's Riddles of Hinduism on Ram and Krishna generated violent objections from the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra which were silenced only after a massive show of strength from Dalits in support of the book. (1988)
Then comes the Rushdie ban and fatwa

Courtesy: dailymail.co.uk
 
  • Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses generates worldwide furore, a price is put on Rushdie’s head; the author has been forced into a life in hiding ever since. (l989).
  • Public showings of Ram Ke Naam, a documentary film by Anand Patwardhan that severely critiques the Ramjanmabhoomi movement have often been marred by violence and the filmmaker subjected to violent threats from various wings of the Hindutva brigade. (l990 onwards)
Bans Transform into Physical violence and attacks

Nikhil Wagle      Courtesy: mid-day.com

  • Nikhil Wagle, the outspoken editor of the Marathi eveninger, Mahanagar has thrice been roughed up, and copies of Mahanagar burnt by Sainiks for his courageous criticism of the Sena (first in 1991).
  • Professor Mushirul Hasan survived a murderous attack on his life by Jamia Milia students after he defends Rushdie's right to freedom of expression. (1992).
  • Dr. Abid Raza Bedar, Director of Patna's Khuda Baksh Oriental Library faced a violent witch-hunt from Muslim students and other fundamentalists when he made bold to say that the word kafir meant someone who rejects faith; hence Hindus should not be called kafirs but mushrik, someone who has more than one God. (1992).
The Trend Continues
  • The Rape of Sita, a critique of the anti-feminist perspective of the Ramayana is banned in Indonesia (1992).
  • Hum Sab Ayodhya, an exhibition put together by the Sahmat group Delhi faced violent objections since among many other panels, it displayed the Dasaratha Jataka that depicts Ram and Sita as siblings. (1993).
  • Activists and MLAs of the Jharkand Mukti Morcha threaten Sunil Gangopadhyay for his book, Prothom Aalo for “uncondonable derrogatory references to Goddess Kali”. (1993).
  • Taslima Nasreen faces the wrath of the Bangladeshi clergy for her book Lajja and outspoken remarks against organised religion. (1993).
  • Schindler's List, the award-winning film by Stephen Spielberg is banned by many Muslim countries because it “portrays Jews as a persecuted minority and encourages racism!” (1994)
Bans of the Maharashtra kind

 Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe (1967) an inspiring play by noted playwright Vijay tendulkar was also banned as were several of his other works.

Ghashiram Kotwal (1972)  a Marathi play written by playwright, Vijay Tendulkar in 1972 as a response to the rise of a local political party,Shiv Sena in Maharashtra was banned in 1974.
 
Sakharam Binder (Sakharam, the Binder, 1972) another play by Tendulkar and was first performed in 1972, this was banned in 1974.
 
 
The Emergency and Bans
Kishore Kumar’s songs were banned from AIR and Doordarshan from May 4, 1976 till the end of the Emergency for his refusal to perform at a Congress rally in Mumbai. Sholay, Aandhi and Kissa Kursi Ka all faced the brunt of this Emergency-driven wrath.

The 1977 political satire, Kissa Kursi Ka, produced by Janata Party MP Amrit Nahata, was banned. But the film's ban also signalled the begining of the end of Sanjay Gandhi's reign. It landed Sanjay Gandhi and then I&B minister VC Shukla in an 11-month long legal case for destroying all the prints and the master-print of the film. Kissa Kursi Ka had spoofed Sanjay Gandhi's auto-manufacturing plans (later established as Maruti Udyog in 1981) and some Congress supporters.The film became a powerful tool for Janata Party in destroying the Indira Gandhi-led Congress in the 1977 Lok Sabha polls. The Shah Commission, established by Janata government to inquire into excesses committed during the Emergency, held Sanjay guilty for burning the prints. As Supreme Court denied him bail, Sanjay had to spend a month in Tihar Jail. Shukla also faced trial for allegedly destroying the prints of Kissa Kursi Ka and was jailed for two years. The verdict was later overturned.
 
Emergency Bans, two
Gulzar’s Aandhi,that was released with the publicity depicting it to be a real life depiction of prime minister Indira Gandhi. A poster in South India declared, “See your Prime Minister on screen”. An advertisement in a Delhi daily called the film “the story of a great woman political leader in post-Independence India”.The leading lady’s appearance was remarkably similar to that of the PM fuelled many a controversy. Suchitra Sen as the leading lady, Aarti, wore saris in the manner which reminded people of the PM. Her hair had a streak of silver, just like the PM. Aarti was quiet, graceful walked briskly, and in many ways, came across as an indomitable woman. The decision to ban the film, however, came after it had had a run of around 20 weeks!
 

In Focus

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives