Memories of Emergency revived
Posted August 10, 2016on:
In the early days of the Emergency, then Minister of Information and Broadcasting Vidya Charan Shukla called foreign journalists stationed in Delhi to a meeting at Shastri Bhavan and told them that as censorship was in force in India, they were expected to abide by the censorship rules. Not only that, Shukla further said, the reporter stationed in Delhi would be held responsible if an editorial or comment or anything in violation of the censorship rules appeared in his/her newspaper published in Washington or Los Angeles or London or Paris. There is no record to show if Shukla’s diktat about ‘anything’ was acted upon.
The spirit of the Emergency, as envisioned by Vidya Charan Shukla 41 years ago, was revived by the police in Bhopal when they swooped on a book store and arrested its owner for selling an Urdu weekly for allegedly containing inflammable material even though the weekly ‘Nai Duniya’ is neither owned nor edited nor published by the bookshop owner; it is not even printed or published in Bhopal. It is owned, edited and published by Shahid Siddiqui, former MP, in Delhi.
Shahid Khan, who owns Yashika Book Corner at Imami Gate in the old part of the city, was arrested on Saturday (August 6) evening and booked under Section 295(A) of Indian Penal Code (hurting religious sentiments). He was produced before a magistrate on Monday and granted bail. The prosecutor and police looked nonplussed when the magistrate reportedly asked them what really was objectionable in the weekly.
Not only the zeal of the police but the whole operation was reminiscent of the Emergency. Bajrang Dal leader Kamlesh Thakur complained at the MP Nagar police station about some objectionable material published in Urdu weekly ‘Nai Duniya’ which was being sold through Yashika Book Centre. The in-charge of the MP Nagar police station promptly registered a case under Zero (which is done only when the offence reported has taken place in another city) and forwarded the complaint to the Kotwali police station where a formal FIR was registered. The Kotwali police took no time in arresting Shahid Khan.