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Under One Flag
The Light Has Gone Out
India Wins Freedom
Apostle of Peace
The Last War of Independence
Quit India
Leave India to God… or to Anarchy
Gandhi and Ambedkar
A Pinch of Salt!
Saga of Indian Revolutionaries
Bardoli
Gandhiji Withdraws from Political Activities
The Himalayan Blunder
A People Reject Their Rulers
Jallianwala — The Aftermath
Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh
The Gentle Satyagrahi
Gandhi in Champaran
Carrot and Stick
Revolutionaries Outside India
Heroes and Martyrs
Gandhi in South Africa
From Swadeshi to Swaraj
Swadeshi Enterprise
The New Spirit of India
The Great Divide
Partition of Bengal
The Battle is Taken to the Legislature!
The Monk Who Shook The Nation
Father of Indian Unrest
An Old Man's Dream
Women : Crossing the Threshold
The Battle Lines are Drawn
The Battle For A Free Press
Pressing On !
Europeans Take To The Street!
The British Raj in Black and White
Mamool Raj
The One-Man Army
Hunger Deaths
The Delhi Durbar
Return to Swadeshi
Barbarous Britannia
‘Rani Ka Hookum’
Perishing in Peace
The Blue Mutiny
English Education
The Trial of the Last Emperor
Roll of Honour
The Empire Strikes Back
British Authority Collapses
Sepoys on the Move
Tribal Uprisings
The Empire Builders
For God and Country

The Battle For A Free Press

James Augustus Hicky described his paper, Bengal Gazette or Calcutta General Advertiser (1780) as "a Weekly Political and Commercial Paper Open to all Parties but influenced by None". When the government tried to curb the paper by instructing post offices not to accept the Gazette for delivery, Hicky hit back: "Mr. Hicky considers the liberty of the Press to be essential to the existence of an Englishman and a free g-t (government). The Subject should have full liberty to declare his principles and opinions, and every act which tends to coerce that liberty is tyrannical and injurious to the community".
In 1798 the Asiatic Mirror writing about the number of Europeans in India remarked that the handful of Englishmen in the country could easily be exterminated if each Indian merely threw a brickbat at them. Irritated by this remark Lord Wellesley who was at that time engaged in wars with Tipu Sultan, vowed to lay down "rules for the conduct of the whole tribes of editors". The following year he came out with Regulations for the Press which required newspapers to submit to pre-censorship. The penalty for violating the Regulations was the deportation of the editor to Europe.
With the arrival of English newspapers edited by India born editors and later, the language press, Wellesley's censorship laws became redundant as the offenders could not be deported. In 1818 Lord Hastings abolished pre-censorship and replaced it with guidelines for editors. Lord Hastings considered "…freedom of publication
as a natural right of my fellow subjects".
Lord Hastings' successor Adam who officiated as Governor-General for a brief period issued a
rigorous Press Ordinance in 1823 making it mandatory for newspapers to obtain a licence to publish, from the government.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy appealed against the ordinance first to the Supreme Court of Calcutta, and later to the King in Council.
The petition signed by Roy and five other leading citizens of Calcutta insisted on the people's right to 'free access to knowledge and opinion without the intervention of any authority to say what was good for them, what not'.
This, according to R.C. Dutt, marked the beginning of constitutional agitation for political rights in the country.
When the petition was turned down, Roy, by way of protest, stopped the publication of his paper Mirat-ul-Akhbar.

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