Saturday, February 23, 2013

Freedom of the Press, India, 1934

In 1934, Bihar suffered a huge earthquake.  Of this episode, Reginold Reynolds writes, in "The White Sahibs in India" (1937):
Writing from Muzaffarpur, Bihar, a Second Lieutenant of the East Yorks Regiment described with pride in an English paper how his regiment had cleared the roads
"by getting four men of the platoon to stop every native that comes along the road and making him work for ten minutes.  It has been most effective.  If they refuse to work a bayonet is stuck in them." [*]
For criticising such aspects of the Government's policy after the earthquake, fifteen newspapers were penalised and obliged to cease publication. [**] 
[*] Letter from 2nd Lieut. C.M.S. Marsden in the Farnham Herald, Feb. 17th, 1934.
[**] Official statement on the operation of the Press Ordinances, circulated in the Legislative Assembly in 1935.
It might be possible to get more context about the shutdown of the fifteen newspapers. The Farnham Herald still seems to exist, but of course, its archives cover only the Internet Era. Few newspapers can digitize their archives like the New York Times has done, I suppose.