The Blocking of this Site by the Indian Government
November 12, 2018
At 7 minutes to midnight (New Delhi time) on November 11, 2018, the Indian government sent us at bannedthought.org an email informing us that in less than two days time it would hold a hearing in New Delhi to decide upon blocking public access by people in India to this website, or at least to the parts of it which contain materials from India and which express the views of large numbers of people in India which the government disapproves of. While we were invited to send a representative to argue our case at that hearing, this is not only impractical for time and financial reasons, it would also obviously be a total waste of time. (Or possibly even lead to our representative being arrested and imprisoned as has recently been happening even to people’s lawyers in India!) The committee meeting on Nov. 14 will almost certainly be a mere bureaucratic formality in any case. And there is nothing that we could say there that we don’t already say on our website—namely that we fervently support the right of free speech and the right to publish and distribute progressive or revolutionary materials not only in India, but everywhere in the world. This extremely basic democratic right is opposed by the current ruling class in India. So there is no point for us to say anything further at this meeting or elsewhere to this despicable anti-democratic ruling class bent on the suppression of all ideas that they disagree with.
[The email sent to us by the Indian government on Nov. 11, 2018.]
[The attached list of specific pages to be blocked on bannedthought.org]
The letter and attachment above, from the Cyber Laws & e-Security Group of the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology of the Government of India show their intention to censor and block access by people in India to the portions of bannedthought.org which provide documents and information about India. Note that the reason they give for this censorship is that these pages contain “Naxal and Anti-National Propaganda”. Of course all reactionaries consider that views opposed to their own are only “propaganda” and insist that the people should only be allowed to see the government’s viewpoint.
bannedthought.org exists to struggle against the fascist-like suppression of progressive ideas and thought by reactionary governments and their agents anywhere in the world. We attempt to publicize such suppression and—when possible—to post documents and publications that have been suppressed elsewhere. Though not based in India, nor operated by Indian citizens, nor with any connection to organizations in India, we got started in late 2007 in reaction to the banning and suppression of the Indian revolutionary magazine People’s March, and the arrest of its editor, by the authorities there. Over the years since that time we have posted a great deal of material from India and other countries which is banned (or otherwise virtually inaccessible) there. There has been so much posted from India because the government there bans and suppresses so very much.
Although the present rulers of India do not seem to understand this basic fact, their ever-expanding censorship of ideas and banning of websites, publications and organizations they disapprove of is a tremendous self-exposure of their real nature. Wouldn’t you think that the authorites in a country would be embarrassed to ban and block access to a website like ours that only exists to expose the suppression of ideas? They still do claim to be a “democracy”, but that has obviously become a totally hollow lie. India has more and more clearly become an openly fascist country.
If you know of progressive publications or documents which are banned or suppressed in India or anywhere else in the world, please let us know about them so that we may inform others of this and possibly post them on this site. At present, and because of our own language deficiencies, we are mostly posting items in English. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Addendum 1: A few (very few!) newspapers and other media in India did post brief notices of the banning of bannedthought.org in the first months after it occurred in November 2018. One such notice, absurdly entitled “Police Block Website which Allegedly Poses Threat to India’s Democracy”, was on the “Mumbai Live” website [at: https://www.mumbailive.com/en/crime/central-government-ban-bannedthought-net-website-for-anti-national-content-31166 ] The article includes this strange paragraph:
According to Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), bannedthought.org was designed to brainwash the youth in urban areas. The website, as per ATS’ claims, talked about how to fight the democracy and examples of such countries were also cited. “bannedthought.org is dangerous for Indian democracy. Therefore, it has been banned,” ATS asserted.
Isn’t is ridiculous that this government agent is absurdly claiming that the government is “upholding democracy” by suppressing ideas it “finds dangerous” or simply strongly disagrees with?! We wonder if the current national and state governments of India even know what democracy and freedom of speech really are! And no one should be said to be “brainwashing others” by simply posting views some bigshot officials don’t like. If there is any brainwashing going on, it is is by the government itself, which bans many views it finds which are opposed to its own. The truth is that some of the documents posted on bannedthought.org do expose the crimes and anti-people actions of the ruling class, and that is why the rulers want to suppress the site.
Addendum 2: At some point in 2020, the Indian government somehow accidently removed the blocking of bannedthought.org from at least one region of the country. This resulted in the following article in the establishment newspaper, The Indian Express, which was one of the rare public reminders published that the Indian government was even doing any censorship of revolutionary ideas and documents. (We assume the viciously anti-democratic government soon resumed the blocking of bannedthought.org throughout the entire country.)
“Blocked by Centre for ‘Naxal & Anti-National Propaganda’ in 2018, Website is Visible Again”, The Indian Express, July 2, 2020, 4 pages. PDF image (315 KB)
Addendum 3: Although bannedthought.org (BT) is blocked by the government within India (except for those few with VPN access), it is available to the public in much of the rest of the world. This is a matter of constant irritation to the reactionary and totally undemocratic Indian government and to the Indian capitalist ruling class in general, which still likes to make a pretense that it allows freedom of speech. One recent example of this irritation is the article “Online Maoist Propaganda: How India Should Respond—Analysis”, by Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray, May 4, 2022, online at https://www.eurasiareview.com/04052022-online-maoist-propaganda-how-india-should-respond-analysis/ and also available here on BT. And who is this Dr. Routray? The bio at the end of the article notes that he has served “as a Deputy Director in the National Security Council Secretariat, Government of India”. So he himself has been one of the very government officials who has been responsible for the suppression of information and ideas in India. We won’t bother with a thorough and detailed rebuttal to all the distortions and falsehoods in Routray’s article, but here are a few comments:
“Maoist Propaganda”: Everyone thinks that information and arguments strongly opposed to their own are “just propaganda”. That is the way the word is used in this society. But if we really believe in democracy and freedom of speech and freedom of expression, then we agree to allow opposing views even if we do personally view them as “propaganda”. But this is obviously not the viewpoint of Dr. Routray or the fascist-like Indian government. And it is always easier to ban writings you dislike if you first label them “propaganda”.
The relationship of bannedthought.org to the Communist Party of India (Maoist): Routray’s article tries to strongly insinuate that BT is connected to the CPI(Maoist) in some way, that it acts as agent for that Party, or that it provides “space on loan” to the CPI(Maoist). This is all completely false. As we note repeatedly on our website, BT has no connection to that Party or to any other Party in India or elsewhere. We do not “loan” any space on our website to any Party or organization. We ourselves simply post documents from any source which we believe are being suppressed elsewhere. All such decisions are 100% ours, and we never pay any attention whatsoever to what other people think we should or should not post. We do post a lot from India, and from the CPI(Maoist) in particular, because the anti-democratic Indian government suppresses so very much, and especially their documents.
bannedthought.org as a useful reference site: Curiously, Routray notes that “To an extent, Banned Thought became a ready reference for the media, researchers, as well as officials.” We thank him for that comment, and promise to try to do an even better job in the future for providing public access to documents which reactionary governments like that of India try so hard to suppress!
Can reactionary governments completely control the Internet? Routry admits that “The futility of taking down and blocking websites is well-acknowledged, yet it is still a preferred official response globally. There is clearly a need for additional steps to counter the extremist narrative.” This should be viewed as a fascist threat to not only continue to try to suppress information and ideas on the Internet by banning and blocking, but to take various further, mostly unspecified, steps. This sounds ominous (as well as possibly hinting at illegal actions according to international communication conventions). But only one very mild suggestion is explicitly mentioned. (See below.)
Setting up an “Anti-Banned Thought” website. Routray suggests that the Indian government “could set-up websites titled ‘Banned Thought Counter’ or ‘Banned Thought Rebuttal’ to ... provide a counter-narrative to extremist propaganda...” We had to laugh at that idea! Isn’t that what all the legal newspapers, TV stations, and media in India are for?! (I.e., to push perspectives agreeable to the Indian ruling class.)
Well, we at bannedthought.org hope and urge the Indian government to follow through on this idea of setting up a “Banned Thought Counter” or some such thing! It can only serve to draw a lot more attention to the fact that the government is suppressing so much information and ideas which its rulers don’t like! And, after all, having things posted which disagree with us isn’t such a bad thing. (Indeed, on bannedthought.org itself we have a great many things posted which disagree with each other.) Isn’t that supposed to be the democratic idea—that the people should be able to hear all views and make up their own minds about what is right or wrong?! It’s too bad that Dr. Routray and the Indian government don’t agree with that principle.
— NOTICE —
bannedthought.org is independent and unaffiliated with any political party. While our sympathies are of course with the struggles of the oppressed and exploited peoples of the world, our goal here is simply to expose attempts to censor or suppress progressive ideas and to make available publications and documents which have been suppressed in one or more countries. See also: About bannedthought.org