Bhima Jewellers, one of the biggest gold retailing firms in Kerala, seems to have pulled its advertisements from Mathrubhumi due to ‘controversies’ over the printing of a novel by the publication 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 Jewellery group said on its Facebook wall.
The move has led to a sharp polarization in Kerala among social media users, with many Malayali social media users threatening to boycott Bhima Jewellers, while many pro-saffron users are changing their display pictures to Bhima Jewellery logo to show solidarity.
The move follows an online campaign against brands that advertise with Mathrubhumi, Kerala’s second largest publication group, after Malayala Manorama.
The group, which traces its roots to India’s struggle for freedom from the British, runs the literary and entertainment magazine Mathrubhumi Weekly, which published Meesa (Moustache), a novel in which two youngsters engage in banter that a certain section of Kerala society found to be outrageous.
The dialogue that outraged this section of the population is as follows:
“Why do you think (Malayali) women dress up and go to the temple every day,” he asked.
“No. If you pay attention, you will notice that they are subconsciously signalling to the males around that they are ready to mate. Hence the emphasis on putting on their best clothes and ornaments,” he said.
Following this, several saffron organizations conducted marches and demonstrations in front of Mathrubhumi offices.
Newly appointed BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai welcomed what he called the “strong stand” taken in this matter by certain organizations.
“I think it is a positive development that (Hindu) outfits have come out with a strong stand in this matter. I support the stand,” he said.
Meanwhile, author S Hareesh has got the support of ‘progressive’ organizations and outfits in the state, including DC Publications, which has a history of backing its writers against external pressure.
Both the central government and the state government too have opposed calls to ban the book in the Supreme Court. The court will take up the matter early next week.
Besides the weekly, the Mathrubhumi group also runs Kerala’s second largest newspaper as well as one of the top television news channels in Malayalam.
Mathrubhumi had earlier come under a similar attack in 2016 after it carried an audience feedback that alleged that the founder of a religion had married a six year old.