The Facebook account of K Satchidanandan, the Malayalam poet and former secretary of the Sahitya Akademi, was suspended for 24 hours on Saturday after he posted a satirical video on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) loss in the Kerala Legislative Assembly elections.
His account water activated later, the poet told Manorama Online.
“This came last night [on Friday] and the reason is for posting a hilarious video about Amit Shah [Union Home Minister] and the loss of the Kerala unit of the BJP in the recent Assembly polls [on May 2]. I had also posted another advertisement about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I had received both these on my WhatsApp,” Satchidanandan said.
He told NDTV that the video was critical but not abusive and explained that the “clipping is from a movie where Hitler is addressing his soldiers after defeat, and the Malayalam commentary in it was about Amit Shah and senior BJP leaders speaking to party workers in Kerala after defeat”.
According to Facebook’s restrictions, Satchidanandan was not able to post, share, like or comment on anything from his account for 24 hours. He was also barred from going live on Facebook for 30 days on grounds of violating their “community standards”.
The poet and former English professor, who quit his job to become the editor of Indian Literature, the English journal of the Indian National Academy in Delhi in 1992, said, “I feel such things can be expected time and again from now on. When I tried to post an article against the suppression of criticism that appeared in the medical journal Lancet, I got the mesage that ‘you are trying to post something other people on facebook have found abusive’. So I feel that there are preying eyes behind critics like me.”
Satchidanandan had shared the Lancet article on Saturday.
He told Manorama Online that he received a warning on April 21 for a “humourous” comment and also began noticing that his comments were disappearing from the section.
After his account was reactivated, he uploaded two posts taking an indirect jibe at the social media giant.
Twelve years of poetry and protest on FB can hardly be erased by twenty-four hours of silence.
If the choice is between being on the FB and being a democrat and a human rights defender, I have no doubt where I should stand.
The Kerala wing of BJP called him out on Twitter for posting a “fake/instigating” video.
K Satchidanandan has been temporarily restricted by Facebook after he posted a fake/instigating video and did not pull it down even after the platform warned about it, post fact check. Going against the law and later calling out victim hood is a typical fake news peddler style! pic.twitter.com/1Yi5eExGm1
— BJP KERALAM (@BJP4Keralam) May 9, 2021
Leaders like Shashi Tharoor and Thomas Isaac, Kerala finance minister, came out in support of 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
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
The Left Democratic Front won 99 of the total 140 seats in the state, while the opposition United Democratic Front had to settle for the remaining 41 and BJP garnered none at the elections.