When renowned Malayalam poet and critic K Satchidanandan tried to open his Facebook account on Friday night, he could not. Wondering what went wrong, he tried to log in again, but in vain.
It was then he realized that his Facebook account was suspended for a post he wrote, slamming the BJP which drew a blank in the recent Kerala elections. Besides, the former Sahitya Akademi secretary also shared a hilarious video about Home Minister Amit Shah, followed by another critical comment about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Last April too, he was warned by the social media giant for “another humorous take”.
The poet-critic insisted the latest video, shared on social media widely, “was in a lighter vein which did not warrant any censorship”.
As per reports in Malayalam media, Satchidanandan could neither share the video nor comment on or react to, any other post for almost 24 hours. However, he was able to read what others shared or wrote. Additionally, he has been banned (for 30 days) from going Facebook Live for “violating community standards”.
Also read: Why Kerala has been overwhelmed by COVID 2.0
Not one to get bogged down, Satchidanandan was quick to share his views the moment his Facebook account was active. “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. Twelve years of poetry and protest can hardly be erased by twenty-four hours of silence,” he wrote in his inimitable style.
“I did not post anything abusive as being accused by Facebook. I received a message on WhatsApp that showed Adolf Hitler scolding his Nazi followers in his finals days and the audio accompanied it suggested that BJP leader Amit Shah was pulling up party leaders in Kerala in Malayalam over the party’s poor performance in the recent elections,” he said.
The Facebook censorship has triggered a social media storm, particularly in Kerala, with many linking a nexus between Facebook and the BJP government at the Centre.
Member of Parliament (from Thiruvananthapuram) and senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted: “Deplorable that Facebook has suspended the account of one of Kerala’s greatest living poets, K Satchidanandan, former Secretary of the Sahitya Akademi), for posting a video about BJP’s defeat in the Kerala Assembly elections. We must not allow censorship into our politics!” (sic)
Thomas Isaac, Kerala’s outgoing finance minister, tweeted, “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 the recent Kerala election.A most deplorable act.” (sic)
NS Madhavan, Malayalam writer and a political analyst, recalled the widely circulated photo of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with a heavy coat of sunscreen. “Haha! Mark Zuckerberg applies sunscreen lotion! Wrong colour, Mark! Apply black paint,” he quipped on Twitter. “Shameless guy blocking poet Satchidanandan on Facebook, for being critical of Modi.” (sic)
Satchidanandan said such rebukes did not surprise him and “those preying eyes” would always be there.
“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 message 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,” the poet told media.