The Kerala police have arrested the recently retired principal, a faculty member and four students of a government polytechnic college in Kunnamkulam, Thrissur, for putting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph in the list of “negative faces” in the college’s annual magazine.
While the contents of the magazine, titled Litsokniga and with a print order of 600 copies, were finalised in October last year, the magazine was published in February. However, it was distributed only last week, at the beginning of the new academic year. Demanding that the magazine be withdrawn, the ABVP, the BJP’s student wing, disrupted classes and staged protests.
Those arrested are principal M N Krishnankutty (who retired in May), staff editor Gopi, student editor C S Praveen, editorial board members P R Nikhil, Jismon James and K M Shyam, and printing press owner Rajeev. All have been released on bail.
They face charges under IPC sections 153 (giving provocation for intent to cause riot), 500 (defamation), 501 (printing mater known to be defamatory), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (a criminal act done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
Police seized copies of the magazine and the computer hard disk from the DTP centre where the publication was processed. While acting principal Babu Raj said the magazine has been withdrawn with immediate effect, Praveen said the action would not be accepted.
The college students’ union is ruled by CPM student wing the SFI, and all members of the editorial board are SFI activists. “The contents of the magazine were finalised in October in consultation with the faculty. Our intention was not to demean the prime minister. We have worked on the magazine, expecting freedom of expression. As an Indian citizen, I have the freedom to criticise Modi. What we did was not wrong,’’ said Praveen.
According to the students’ union, the theme of the magazine was to explain the history of the world through different human faces. It had five categories of faces: spiritual, literature, world leaders, negative and sports, with a page dedicated for each category. The negative section has Modi, Osama bin Laden, Ajmal Kasab, Hitler, Veerappan and a few others.