Protest in Orissa against arrest of Kandhamal book authorDecember 11th, 2008 - 5:44 pm ICT by IANS
Bhubaneswar, Dec 11 (IANS) Rights activists, journalists and writers sported black badges and gagged their mouth Thursday as they staged a sit-in outside the official residence of the Orissa governor here to protest the arrest of a journalist for writing a book on the recent violence in Kandhamal.Lenin Kumar, the editor of the quarterly magazine Nishan, was arrested Monday after his book “Dharma Nare Kandhamalare Raktara Banya” (Flood of blood in Kandhamal in the name of religion) came out. Police termed the publication provocative and intended to disturb communal harmony.
Two others who helped him print and circulate the book are also arrested and jailed in Bhubaneswar after their bail pleas were rejected.
The protesters sat in front of the governor’s house for nearly three hours holding placards and banners that read “Stop communalism”, “Free Lenin and others with apology”, “Thinking and writing is not crime”, and “Support the right to Dissent”.
A delegation later handed over a memorandum to the officials at the governor’s house demanding immediate release of the writer.
“Police have tortured my husband, violating all basic human rights,” Lenin’s wife Rumita Kundu said as protests were organised in Bhabanipatna town in Kalahandi district Tuesday.
“Everybody has the right to express his thoughts. It is an attempt by the government to suppress writers who have independent voices,” eminent writer and columnist Bibhuti Patnaik said.
Added civil rights activist Sudhir Patnaik: “It is a move to curb free, frank and fearless speech of writers and journalists.”
The Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), journalist associations and writers associations across the state have also issued statements condemning the arrest of Lenin.
Police has claimed it has seized at least 700 copies of the book from the printing press.
Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread communal violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23.
While the police blamed Maoists for the killings, some Hindu organisations held Christians responsible for the crime and launched attacks on the community.
Thousands of Christians were forced to flee from their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs. About 8,000 people are still living in government-run relief camps in the district.