Right-wing government shuts down Communist newspaper in India
Supporters of Communist Party of India-Marxist participate in march at Agartala, in the eastern Indian state of Tripura, India. | Saurabh Das / AP

India’s Communists have vowed to fight “legally and politically” to defend freedom of the press after a state’s right-wing BJP government attempted to shut down the party newspaper.

Tripura, which the Hindu nationalist party took control of from the communist-led Left Front earlier this year, cancelled the registration of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) newspaper Desher Katha, which has been published for the last 40 years, causing the immediate loss of 200 jobs.

The High Court of Tripura issued a stay on the government’s order on October 11, allowing the paper to again publish after being closed for 11 days. The case will still go through the courts as the CPI-M appeals the shutdown order.

The paper was closed on a technicality relating to a problem in its registration details, but the CPI-M says the decision was political and that flaws in the registration process would usually result in a paper being asked to correct them rather than ordering it to stop printing.

CPI-M news site People’s Democracy said the closure was the “culmination of a series of attacks on the newspaper ever since the BJP-led coalition government assumed office six months ago” which included the distribution network refusing to take the paper as well as physical attacks on vendors and bundles being seized and burned.

“The Desher Katha and the CPI-M will not be cowed by this anti-democratic attack,” it pledged, saying that “the right to publish a newspaper and to convey news and views to the people is a fundamental right assured in the constitution…. [This] is a warning that no rights are safe under the BJP regime.”

The CPI-M politburo said the newspaper’s closure rested “on flimsy and dubious grounds. This is a brazen attack on freedom of the press,” while the paper’s former editor, Gautam, Das said the “illegal gag” was the consequence of its “exposing the ruling-class bravely.”

Following its election victory, BJP supporters unleashed a wave of violence against CPI-M members in Tripura, with the party complaining to India’s central government as early as March that “1,539 houses were attacked, 196 set on fire, 134 party offices attacked.”

The BJP’s street wing, the RSS, is held by the CPI-M to be accountable for numerous violent and sometimes lethal attacks on political opponents across India.


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Morning Star
Morning Star

The Morning Star is the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain.

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