New Delhi — The Spokesman Weekly, ‘‘the only English journal of the Sikhs” faces closure. Charged with sedition and spreading disharmony among communities the paper has not found a printer for six weeks now.
The charges were leveled against the Delhi based paper by the Delhi Administration in two cases registered at the Mandir Marg police station on January 10 and 12 this year. These were for articles the weekly published on July 23 and November 19 last year.
The charges have been made against the editor, the publisher, the printers and some of the authors of the articles found objectionable by the administration months after they were written.
The first FIR No: 15 refers to five articles under the titles: ‘““Government continues to alienate Sikhs,’’ “Government assumes draconian powers to try terrorists,” “The massacre in Amritsar,” ‘Destruction of the Golden Temple complex” and ‘From black to white’ (a letter on the Punjab White Paper).
The second FIR No: 16 mentions three articles in the November 19-issue titled “Can Sikhs live in India with honor and dignity?”’, “Plot to kill Sikhs and loot Sikh properties masterminded by Congress(I) leaders’”’ and “Sikhs to choose unity or annihilation.”
In a letter to the chairman of the Press Council of India, the editor of the weekly, Mr. Ghanisham Singh Pasricha, has said that the accounts in the weekly on the November riots were upheld by several independent inquiries. National dailies had given more graphic accounts of the riots and castigated the Government in harsher ‘tones. “Yet we alone have been hauled up for sedition,”’ Mr. Pasricha said.
All those charged took anticipatory bail in February. But there has been no move since by the police to prosecute the staff of the paper. The Government has not given permission to prosecute them under Section 196. The fall-out has been only that the weekly is not without a printer.
Article extracted from this publication >> April 26, 1985