Free Speech Gallery

Cartoonist Manjul got a bolt from the blue bird

7 June 2021.

Twitter India sent him a letter warning him that the Indian government had complained about his cartoons. He uploaded this letter on Twitter. It sparked widespread protests and statements of support and solidarity. Other cartoonists also drew cartoons in support.

Suhail Naqshbandi’s folder of unpublished cartoons

6 May 2019.

A selection from Suhail Naqshbandi’s sheaf of unpublished cartoons, which he shared with Free Speech Collective.

“What do you do if your cartoons don’t get published in your newspaper, day after day?”

On May 1, 2019, Suhail Naqshbandi decided to call it quits from Greater Kashmir after four years of turning in a cartoon daily (Read his interview here).

The cartoons spanned a range of issues and concerns, from media bias (and media war-mongering television anchors) to the Rafale deal and missing documents, the violence and killings in the most heavily militarised zone of conflict in the Kashmir Valley, internet blocks and republic day celebrations without any public!

There were also cartoons about the Unilever Surf Excel advertisement which the rightwing protested as being anti-Hindu, the treatments meted out to Kashmiris – mass incarcerations and large-scale killings and the historic Shawl Weavers Movement of 1865 when poor Kashmiri shawl weavers were killed for protesting against the cruel taxation system of Dogra rulers, the last cartoon Naqshbandi submitted before quitting the newspaper.

60 days and counting, an fsc campaign

4 October 2019.

Free Speech Collective (FSC) launched ’60 days and counting’ on 04th October, marking two months of the intolerable and untenable blockade of communication in the Kashmir Valley.

The campaign looks at the current crisis in Kashmir through the unique perspective of cartoonist Suhail Naqshbandi, who faced censorship and was forced to quit his daily cartoon with a prominent newspaper on May 1 this year. As some cartoons dating back to 2016 show, the abrogation of Art 370 and the attempts to change the demographics in Kashmir were very much on the anvil. Other cartoons record the hypocrisy and opportunism of political leaders while still others bear the anguish of the violence and killings.

The blockade

The Union government has been obdurate and refuses to lift the communication blockade, despite reports of hardships faced by citizens. The impact of the internet shutdown has been felt in a myriad horrific ways, from the inability to reach timely medical help in emergencies, the immense problems faced by students, job-seekers, litigants unable to access justice, those engaged in trade etc.

The media has been struggling to get these important stories across and its very existence has been jeopardised. A report entitled ‘News behind the Barbed Wire: Kashmir’s Information Blockade’ from Free Speech Collective (FSC) and Network of Women in Media India (NWMI) had documented the effect of the shutdown on the media and on citizens.

The widespread condemnation from international agencies and authorities like the UN Special Rapporteur for freedom of speech and expression has not made an iota of difference. Petitions in the Supreme Court of India challenging the communications blockade have not yielded any relief from the apex court.

Now, it is 70 days and counting. At the end of the Free Speech Collective campaign series, we leave you to see how it translates on the ground.

Cartoons by Suhail Naqshbandi @suhailhnaqshbandi
Design by Shweta Vachani (
Digital campaign: Sarita Ramamoorthy