Two Bangalore dailies booked for Taslima writings

Bangalore: Police Tuesday filed cases against two local dailies in Karnataka for carrying an article based on Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen’s novel that sparked clashes and riots in two towns Monday, claiming two lives and injuring many.

“We have booked cases under sections I53A, 153B and 295A of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) against both the newspapers for provoking the public and causing misunderstanding between two communities,” Bangalore additional police commissioner A.M. Pujar told IANS here.

The first case was booked against Kannada Prabha, a Kannada daily of The New Indian Express Group (South) from Bangalore, for publishing a translated version of Taslima’s article in English based on her novel “Lajja” Feb 28 in the Sunday supplement under the heading: “Parda o Parda”.

The second case was booked against Siasat, a Urdu daily published from Bangalore, for a follow-up story March 1 stating that “an article based on the views of Taslima was published in a Kannada daily against the social custom/practice of wearing burqa (veil) by Muslim women”.

Both the newspapers carried an “apology” in Tuesday’s issue on the front page for publishing the article and the follow-up story.

The police also visited the newspaper offices late Monday and served notices to their publisher, editor and manager, directing them to carry an apology in Tuesday’s issue and explain reasons for publishing the articles.

“We only carried a news report stating that such an article was published in Kannada Prabha by lifting the matter from some English website,” a Siasat editor told IANS on condition of anonymity.

“There was no intention to provoke or incite the public to react or protest,” he added.

Kannada Prabha’s Sunday magazine section editor Venkateshwara Rao said his office was looking into the matter and he had no comments to make.

“We have no comments to make. We are looking into the matter. The editor and publisher will reply to the notice served by the police,” Rao said.

Kannada Prabha editor Shiva Subramanya was not available for comment.

Section 153A applies for “promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony by words, either spoken or written.”

Section 153B applies to “imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration by words either spoken or written”.

Section 295A applies to “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs . by words, either spoken or written.”

Under these sections, the accused are liable to be punished with imprisonment for a three-year term, which may extend to eight years, or with fine, or with both.

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