Jewellery group Bhima Jewellers has withdrawn its advertisements from Mathrubhumi group of publications. This following tremendous pressure from Hindu right wingers and many other users who have come down heavily on Mathrubhumi for publishing the controversial novel 'Meesha'.
An announcement was made on the jewellery group's Facebook page, without mentioning the media house. However it was clear that the media house in question was Mathrubhumi, that has been under fire from Hindu groups and many devotees for publishing the serialised version of 'Meesha'.
A post on Bhima's official Facebook page read, "This is in response to a few comments and queries appeared in our Facebook page as part of the comments pertaining to we giving advertisement in certain media. Kindly note our media plan is decided by our advertising agency based on circulation and readership. These proposals were approved few months early keeping Onam in mind and therefore it was scheduled well in advance by our advertising agency. Bhima, as you know, is a 94-year-old brand and a responsible business group. We give importance to public sentiments and wish to stay away from controversies of any kind. We have noted your concerns and have informed our advertising agency to put our ads to the publication concerned in abeyance."
The post also stated that the jewellery group operated in a fashion that it prioritised fairness and avoided public controversies.
Though Bhima Jewellers claimed that there had been many comments asking them to withdraw the ads, a cursory glance showed that most of the comments were restricted to an advertisement post that Bhima had posted on 4th August. There were around 500 comments on that post, mostly people asking the jewellery store to boycott Mathrubhumi.
There were also comments in which users warned Bhima that if they don't pull out the advertisements, they will have district level campaigns to boycott the store.
Many who had asked Bhima to boycott Mathrubhumi have now posted congratulating them for the decision.
Malayalam novel 'Meesha' by Malayalam writer S Hareesh was published in a serialised format in Mathrubhumi and it was portion in the July 11th issue of the periodical which sparked outrage as it had a conversation between two characters. One of the characters remarks that women dress up well while going to temples, to get into sexual relationships.
Stating that the parts published was offensive to temple going women and derogatory towards women in general, several people asked for the novel to be banned.
After receiving death threats for the book, the writer himself withdrew the novel from Mathrubhumi stating that he was too weak to fight it.
Following this, several people, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, stood in support of the writer and his freedom of expression. The CM also said that the government would back writers and will not allow their freedom of speech to be attacked. Meesha was later published by DC Books and is available across the state.
However, resentment against the periodical which published 'Meesha' initially has not died down. Several Facebook users have been protesting to boycott Mathrubhumi over the incident. The Facebook page of Kalyan jewellers, another prominent group in Kerala is also filled with comments by people asking them to shun Mathrubhumi. A top official at Mathrubhumi who TNM reached out to refused to comment.