“Can a few metres of barbed wire create a nation?
Would it be sedition if I feed someone on the other side?
Who created the invisible chains that restrict our movements?”
Thus begins the college magazine ‘Pellet’ which has been in the news lately due to the protests staged by right-wing political parties against its allegedly obscene content.
‘Pellet’ was published to mark the 125th anniversary of Govt. Brennen College, Kannur. The 13th page of the book, which contains the caricature of a couple having sex in a movie theatre while the national anthem plays in the background, invited widespread criticism. Consequently, heated debates about the content of the magazine ensued.
Supporters of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad alleged that the Students’ Federation of India, which rules the college union, used the magazine to make petty political gains. The BJP in Kerala demanded strict action against the editorial team saying that the magazine supported the secession of Kashmir and urged people to have sex during the national anthem.
Prem Sai, a leader of the ABVP, filed a complaint because of which 12 students including Athul Ramesh, the chief editor were booked. A case was also filed against Prof KV Sudhakaran, the staff editor of the magazine. However, the college union is of the opinion that the magazine only discusses contemporary issues and that the caricature points to the extreme nationalism promoted by right-wing forces. Even the principal of the college, Murlidas, voiced his support for the Union saying, “There is nothing wrong with the magazine. If viewed from a narrow-minded perspective, it could cause a misunderstanding. We are trying to convince the students about it.” However, the college has decided to remove the pages containing the pictures, but none of the articles will be withdrawn.
A similar row had occurred in 2015 because of the magazine published by Guruvayoorappan College, which was titled ‘Vishvavighyathamaya theri’ (“the famous slander”). ABVP staged massive protests against the ‘obscene’ language used in the magazine, and its activists even burned the copies. The frequency of incidents of censorship in college spaces is increasing. Recently, NSS College, Ottappalam faced the ire of the right-wing groups for publishing a poem named ‘Chodyam’ in their college magazine, which allegedly questions the chastity of a central character in the Mahabharata, and hence, hurts religious sentiments. Following this, the Hindu Aikya Vedi had demanded the withdrawal of the magazine, and the principal apologised and ordered to stop the circulation of copies.