Sulekha bans an activist’s blog
The Internet plays host to many whom the mass media ignores - activists, human rights workers, et al. It is also the relative freedom of the net, lack of censorship, ability of instantaneous publication, global visibility, and the amalgamation of all media formats - text, video, audio - that results in many choosing to communicate via the net.
This, in turn, has proved to be a pain for those powers that want to suppress something, especially governments across the world. Censorship of the Internet in China and the country’s punishment of those that post anti-establishment views on their personal sites or blogs is well-known. What is not so known that it is not just China that does that, but is something that happens even in India. Many people have found it out the hard way.
Now comes news that Indian classified and blog website Sulekha.com has ejected a human rights blog authored by a reporter, and is refusing to explain this censorship. In this case the victim Priyanka Borpujari is a journalist from Mumbai. She was a reporter with national newspaper Mumbai Mirror and was on a visit to Dantewada district in the state of Chhattisgarh, which is today in the middle of the confrontation between Maoists and state government forces. She went there to the Ashram of a Gandhian activist Himanshu Kumar who was fasting against the government's attack on tribals, and would post her daily diary on her blog. The state and central governments were being critiqued because of the way both have been handling the war on Maoists christened ‘Operation Green Hunt’.
Priyanka’s posts backed up with images and videos were often about the gross human rights violations under the same and the threat that tribals of the region faced to their lives. However, barely seven days into her posting the blog in her Blogspot, Sulekha and NowPublic accounts, her Blogspot and Sulekha accounts disappeared. This surprised thousands across the world who read her daily accounts of what was happening in the district as hers was the only voice out of the district that was independent as no other publication had dared to go there (later Tehelka would do a string of stories exposing the government). Many complaints were made to Blogspot and the Sulekha administration. However, while the Blogspot account was back on track after a week, her account in Sulekha still stands cancelled despite Priyanka’s repeated reminders to the Sulekha administrators. No reason has been cited for the abrupt removal of the blog.
Across the world it has been observed that the government often gags the freedom of the press as they fear the truth from leaking out. This has been evident in the way the press have not been allowed to cover the government fight with LTTE or in Iraq where the same happened. However, the Internet poses a new set of problems, which was so far thought to be under control. However, as this gagging incident of blog posts by an individual show, the governments of the lands have become sharper and now even the Internet is not free from the dangers of censorship and gag.
Ironically, it is an American blogging site Google’s Blogger that continues to provide her freedom of expression and an Indian blogging group that has banned her and refuses to explain why.
Priyanka's Blog at Blogspot: www.priyanka-borpujari.blogspot.com
Priyanka's now deleted Sulekha blog link: www.supertramp.sulekha.com