India and the ‘freedom of press’

Muslims in India enjoy no better ‘freedom of press’ than they enjoy in United States and most of the European countries. The only difference being that their view must cross with Zionist Jews or Hindutva in the later case.

Two weeks ago, the office of the Other Books (a publishing company in Kozhikode Kerala, India) was raided by police on the excuse that a book titled “Asavarnarkku Nallath Islam (Islam is best for non-Savarnas)”, originally published in 1936 and recently reprinted the Other Books – contains hatred towards non-Muslims.

The Assistant Commissioner of Police, who headed the raid admitted that the said book doesn’t contain communal hatred. However, the police took a CD and computer for further investigations.

Soon after the raid, Other Books Editor M. Noushad in a press note denied the firm was associated with any Muslim organization, including the Popular Front of India. He said it has published books on a variety of subjects like Kerala history, Muslim studies, Dalit issues, women’s issues, caste and culture, and West Asia. Historians K.N. Panikkar, M.G.S. Narayanan, K.K.N. Kurup and K.N. Ganesh and writer Zachariah are among the persons whose writings have appeared in their publications.

The book “Asavarnarkku Nallath Islam” – is a collection of essays dealing with matters connected with the issue of conversion. Among the writers are some well-known personalities of the time like Sahodaran K. Ayyappan, K. Sukumaran and K.C. Vallon.

B.R.P. Bhaskar, whose father’s article is included in the first edition of the book, over 74 years ago, wrote in the CounterMedia:  

As part of the attempt to rekindle the embers of Kerala’s renaissance movement which had died down, the Dalit Sahitya Academy, Kozhikode, reprinted the book two decades ago. It sent me a copy at that time as the book contains a piece written by my father, A. K. Bhaskar. That essay outlines the message of Islam.

I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the essay appearing under my father’s name. Nearly 70 years ago –a few years after the book was first published– I had accompanied him to a function held at Kollam on the Prophet’s birthday. On that occasion, he spoke on the message of Islam, and what is in the book corresponds with what he said there.

I understand two more editions of the book have appeared since the Dalit Sahitya Academy first reprinted it.

Two years ago, Other Books published “Nine Decades of Marxism in the Land of Brahminism” by Swapan K. Biswas and its Malayalam translation by M. R. Sudesh. At the instance of the publishers, I wrote an introduction for the Malayalam version, titled “Brahmana Marxism”.

Earlier the police had arrested workers of Dalit Human Rights Movement in several districts and disrupted distribution of copies of its weekly, Swatantra Nattuvisesham.

The established political parties want to suppress Swatantra Nattuvisesham as DHRM poses a threat to their traditional Dalit (untouchable) base. The police wants to suppress it because it is serializing graphic accounts of police torture of DHRM activists arrested in connection with the murder case.

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