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Spectrum's A brief history of Moderrn India Development of Indian Press
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Balgangadhar Tilak Balgangadhar Tilak is most frequently associated with the nationalist fight for the freedom of press. Tilak had been building up antiimperialist sentiments among the public through Ganapati festivals (started in 1893), Shivaji festivals (started in 1896) and through his newspapers Kesari and Maharatta. He was among the first to advocate bringing the lower middle classes, the peasants, artisans and workers into the Congress fold. In 1896, he organised an all Maharashtra campaign for boycott of foreign cloth in opposition to imposition of excise duty on cotton. In 1896-97 he initiated a no-tax campaign in Maharashtra, urging farmers to withhold the payment of revenue if their crop had failed. In 1897, plague occurred in Poona. Although Tilak supported government measures to check plague, there was large-scale popular resentment against heartless and harsh methods such as segregation and house searches. The popular unrest resulted in murder of the chairman of the Plague Committee in Poona by the Chapekar brothers. The government policies on tariff, currency and famine were also behind this popular resentment.
Balgangadhar Tilak The Government had been looking for an opportunity to check this militant trend and hostility in the press. They decided to make Tilak a victim to set an example to the public. Tilak was arrested after the murder of Rand on the basis of the publication of a poem, Shivaji's Utterances', in Kesari, and of a speech which Tilak had delivered at the Shivaji festival, justifying Afzal Khan's murder by Shivaji. Tilak's defence of Shivaji's killing of Afzal Khan was portrayed by the prosecution as an incitement to kill British officials. Tilak was held guilty and awarded rigorous imprisonment of eighteen months. Simultaneously several other editors in Bombay presidency were tried and given similar harsh sentences. There were widespread protests against these measures. Overnight Tilak became a national hero and was given the title of 'Lokmanya' (respected and honoured by the people)-a new leader who preached with his deeds. In 1898, the Government amended Section 124A and added another Section 153A which made it a criminal offence for anyone to bring into contempt the Government of India or to create hatred among different classes, that is, vis-a-vis the English in India. This also led to nation-wide protests. During Swadeshi and Boycott Movements and due to rise of militant nationalist trends, several repressive laws were passed.
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