Four days after popular political cartoonist Manjul received a notice from Twitter, he was suspended by Reliance Industries Limited owned Network 18. He was served notice after Twitter received a legal request from Indian Law Enforcement against his Twitter handle.
Twitter India didn’t take any action against the reported content. It also recommended that Manjul could take legal action against the Indian government, contact civil society organisations for redressal, voluntarily delete the content or find any other resolution.
Manjul received the notice on June 4 and shared the email on his Twitter handle with the caption “Jai ho Modi Ji ki Sarkar ki”. He said that he felt insulted to be branded as a violator of Indian law.
— MANJUL (@MANJULtoons) June 5, 2021
Manjul Response to Notice
“Thankful that the Modi government didn’t write to Twitter to shut my handle. This cartoonist is a sinner, an atheist, and doesn’t consider Modiji as a god,” tweeted Manjul.
शुक्र है मोदी सरकार ने ट्विटर को ये नहीं लिखा कि ये ट्विटर हैंडल बन्द करो। ये कार्टूनिस्ट अधर्मी है, नास्तिक है। मोदी जी को भगवान नहीं मानता।
— MANJUL (@MANJULtoons) June 4, 2021
“I’m a law-abiding citizen, when I cross the road I try to cross on a government-made zebra crossing. I’m that variety of citizen who feels guilty if we ever break the law. If we cross a red light we apologise profusely and pay the fine. I even donated to the PM Cares Fund,” Manjul said.
“Free speech and humour are essential for a healthy democracy,” responded Manjul.
Prashant Bhushan Again on Target
Meanwhile, lawyer activist Prashant Bhushan also shared the email that he got from Twitter along with the cartoon concerned on Thursday with a caption “Which laws Sir? Sedition? Or the law against looting banks?”
Twitter has received a request from 'India', which I presume means the Indian Govt, that my tweet of Satish Acharya's cartoon below, violates 'the laws of India' & therefore should be taken down!
Which laws Sir? Sedition? Or the law against looting banks?? pic.twitter.com/3mxdqk9811
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) June 10, 2021
Cartoonists United against Threat to Freedom of Speech
.@MANJULtoons has always made hard hitting impactful comics that hold truth to power. Recently his work has called out the government's absolute apathy towards Indians during a devastating time. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/J9E9hBd3TZ
— Sanitary Panels (@sanitarypanels) June 5, 2021
— PenPencilDraw (@penpencildraw) June 5, 2021
Sandeep Adhwaryoo from Times of India
I wasn’t surprised at the notice to Manjul, considering the current political climate and the Narendra Modi government’s attempt to regulate social media through its new IT rules.However, these aren’t the signs of a healthy democracy.
The acceptance of satire reflects the maturity of democracy and attempts to stifle it reflect the insecurity of the government.
Cartoons act as an outlet for public emotions. They cannot control every outlet. If they silence one, 10 more will come up.
Rachita Taneja, Creator of Sanitary Panels
Rachita Taneja who is already facing contempt of court charges also came in support of Manjul. “Comics and cartoonists hold up a mirror to those in power, and when they are attacked by the government it means the government can’t handle scrutiny,” Rachita said.
She was facing contempt charges in relation to a cartoon about the Supreme Court’s handling of a case involving television anchor Arnab Goswami.