But despite all that coverage, the decision of Avadhnama's Mumbai editor to reprint an old Charlie Hebdo cartoon, which happened to depict the prophet Muhammad, backfired badly. According to local reports, Shireen Dalvi, the Mumbai editor, who is Muslim, was recently arrested by police on grounds of offending religious sensibilities after members of the Muslim community in her town in Mumbai's environs launched angry protests. Six different complaints have been lodged against her in the Mumbai area.
She was released on bail, but is so afraid for her safety that she's wearing a burqa for the first time in her life and is avoiding visiting Muslim-majority neighborhoods.
"I have been forced to remain in hiding and have switched off my phone, and faced severe mental trauma. I have left my house leaving my two children alone as I try to get bail in the cases filed against me," Dalvi told an Indian media watchdog site.
"I have never worn a burqa but now feel the need to do so. Some people have commented that this whole episode is God’s way of punishing me so that I am forced to hide my face and that I should not get space for burial even after my death," she said, referring to extreme cases when a Muslim community can refuse a proper burial to criminals and murderers.
A day after publishing the offending cartoon, Dalvi had penned an apology on the front-page of the paper. In a subsequent interview, she said the note stated that "our intention was not to hurt anyone and that we apologize if indeed the report or the image caused hurt or upset anyone. I asked for forgiveness from my heart. I too follow Islam and am a Muslim."
But her appeal clearly fell on deaf ears. The Mumbai edition of Avadhnama has apparently been shuttered and its 15 staff members sacked, according to the Indian Express.
The newspaper's headquarters are in the city of Lucknow, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the historic cradle of the Urdu language, whose readership is predominantly Muslim. Avadhnama's editors in Lucknow have distanced themselves from the Mumbai edition, saying it operates as a separate entity.
Dalvi's plight is just the latest in a long litany of episodes where an Indian's right to be offended seems to trump free speech -- and Muslims are hardly the only ones lodging these cases and trying to censor expression on grounds of hurt religious feelings.
Dalvi appears distraught. "It was a clear news story. If you write about the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo, you also need to publish a relevant picture with it," she told the Indian Express while sitting at a restaurant in south Mumbai. The newspaper recounted her struggles trying to sip a glass of juice through her face veil. "How do I drink this now?" she asked.