Bengaluru: The Facebook page of famous Malayalam poet and critic K. Satchidanandan was allegedly suspended for 24 hours Saturday after he posted a video mocking the BJP’s defeat in the recent Kerala elections.
Satchidanandan is the former secretary of the Sahitya Akademi and one of the most respected littérateurs in the state.
The celebrated poet told ThePrint that his Facebook account was blocked Saturday after he posted a “hilarious video about Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the Kerala BJP’s loss in the recent assembly polls”.
“I did not post anything offensive. It was a message (a movie clip) I found on WhatsApp that showed German dictator Adolf Hitler reprimanding his soldiers during his final days,” Satchidanandan said. “There was audio in it that suggested Union Home Minister Amit Shah was pulling up Kerala BJP party leaders for their poor performance in the assembly elections.”
“I had also posted another advertisement about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I had received both on WhatsApp,” the poet added.
According to Satchidanandan, his account was finally made active Sunday morning.
Satchidanandan said he realised his account was blocked when he tried to upload a scientific report, published by The Lancet, on the Covid situation in India. He said he has earlier received a warning from Facebook about the suspension of his account.
“After a few hours, I noticed that I was unable to post, share or write a comment through my FB account. But this is not the first time,” he said. “On 21 April, I had posted a humorous comment, for which I received a warning. But I had earlier noticed that several of my comments were missing or even disappearing. I have been informed that I cannot go live on FB as I had, according to the social media company, violated their community guidelines.”
Facebook, however, told ThePrint the post had been removed due to an “inadvertent technical error”.
“The post was removed and a feature limit imposed, on account of an inadvertent technical error that had crept in; not because the Indian government asked us to. The error has since been rectified,” a Facebook spokesperson said through email.
‘12 years of poetry cannot be erased by 24 hours of silence’
When the account was restored, the poet made a post saying “twelve years of poetry and protest on Facebook can hardly be erased with twenty-four hours of silence”.
“If there is a choice between being a part of Facebook or becoming a democratic and a defender of human rights, I have no qualms or doubt where I stand,” the post said.
The poet received backing from a number of people and political leaders who criticised the alleged suspension of his account.
Congress’ Shashi Tharoor termed Facebook’s decision “deplorable”.
Deplorable that @Facebook has suspended the account of one of Kerala's greatest living poets, @Satchida (K. Satchidanandan, former Secy of the SahityaAkademi), for posting a video about BJP's defeat in the Kerala Assembly elections. We must not allow censorship into our politics!
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) May 8, 2021
Senior CPI(M) leader Thomas Isaac, who served as finance minister in the Pinarayi Vijayan government re-elected last week, also extended solidarity to the poet.
In solidarity with Sachdanandan leading contemporary Malayalam poet and former secretary of National Sahitya Academy, whose Facebook account has been closed for posting a video on PM Modi in relation to BJP defeat in recent Kerala election .A most deplorable act .#Facebook
— Thomas Isaac (@drthomasisaac) May 8, 2021
Dr S. Faizi, an ecologist and UN environmental negotiator based out of Thiruvananthapuram, raised concerns over Facebook blocking Satchidanandan’s account.
“It is unacceptable and against the principles of freedom of expression. We have to look into how these conglomerates control the medium and also how they ensure that the interests of those who support them are catered to, in order to enhance their capital,” he told ThePrint. “Very often, we see that FB blocks anything that they detect as being anti-Modi or anti-Centre.”
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)