BY SALIL TRIPATHI | Wall Street Journal, Mar 12 2010
Indians boast of living in the world's most populous democracy, and rightly so. Regular elections and vigorous public debate are a rebuke to anyone who thinks that liberty can't flourish in a large, largely poor, culturally and linguistically diverse country. But in one area of life officials' concerns for keeping peace between various religious and ethnic groups is threatening a core freedom: speech.
In a little-noticed case on Feb. 26, police in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh arrested Macha Laxmaiah, an author who writes using the pseudonym Krantikar ("revolutionary"), and his distributors, including Innaiah Narisetti, president of the Hyderabad-based nonprofit Center for Inquiry, for "hurting the sentiments of Muslims." Their alleged crime? The distribution of "Crescent Over the World," a book including contributions from Salman Rushdie, Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, and a cartoon from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Mr. Narisetti is out on bail now; Mr. Laxmaiah remains in custody.
Narisetti is a friend of mine and a CFI representative.