Published: 26th July 2019
Why this Kerala college succumbed to right-wing pressure and withdrew its magazine
Mar Athanasius College's Magazine spoke about a lot of contemporary issues in Kerala and India. But, it was withdrawn on July 24
Upon flipping the pages of 'Aana Keramala, Aadu Keramala, Aayiram Kaanthaari Poothirangi', the annual magazine of Mar Athanasius College, Kothamangalam, one gets a glimpse of what happened in Kerala and around the world in 2018. Most Keralites would remember the year as quite an eventful one.
In May, the state successfully fought an epidermic like Nipah. A couple of months later, the state witnessed the worst floods of the year. Yet, it survived. A month from then, the Supreme Court ruled, favouring the entry of women in Sabarimala, creating a lot of hue and cry, especially among the Hindutva outfit members of the state. However, notwithstanding the resistance, two women managed to enter the shrine on January 2, 2019. At the same time, the number of hate crimes, mob lynchings and incidents of cow vigilantism shot up in India. And on the bright side, section 377 was decriminalised. The magazine talks about it all, in forms of stories, poems and opinion pieces — just like any other college magazine. Apart from these, the 198-page-long magazine talks about Madhu, an adivasi man, who was beaten to death, the Kisan March and Gauri Lankesh.
But two days back, the magazine that was released on April 12, ran into a lot of trouble. It began with outrage from the right-leaning Hindu Aikyavedi and ended with the college management withdrawing the magazine on July 24. In a crude and outrageous Facebook post, the organisation's president KP Sasikala accused the college management and magazine editor of selectively targeting Hindus.
"Anyone will find the magazine outrageous. We're not just raising our voices because we're Hindus, but the magazine is Anti-Hindu. Why does it talk at lengths about Bindu and Kanakadurga and not about Sister Anupama who protested against Bishop Franko?" asks Sasikala. But why be furious about the magazine, three months after its release, we sought. She says, "I got it only 2 days back. Somebody sent it to me via WhatsApp. I can only react when I get it."
At the same time, filmmaker Archana Padmini, who released the Magazine finds the controversy disgusting and irrelevant. "I condemn this incident and I'm in solidarity with the editorial board who brought out this brilliant and beautiful magazine. I'm privileged to be part of it," she says. Archana was also interviewed by the students for an article in the magazine. "There is no point in arguing here. They (The right-wingers) are making noise and trying to promote communalism. They're very toxic," she adds.