Wishing Kapil Sibal a Happy 1st of April


 

Newsclick, 1 April, 2012

Newsclick is joining other activists and websites in wishing Kapil Sibal a happy April Fool’s Day. Not because he is being foolish in trying to censor the net, but because he is being too clever by half. Which amounts to the same thing.

Sibal is one of country’s leading lawyers and as the Minister of Information Technology, we would have thought the right person to create an enlightened legal framework for the Internet. But instead of taking the high road — what is an appropriate legal regime for the Internet which would allow the growth of new media and new Internet business models, Sibal chose to take the low road — how can the ruling party police the net in its own interest. This is what explains his calling various Internet platforms and Social Media sites and asking them to take down material that is derogatory to the Congress leaders; or else. If we believe the newspaper reports, his message was frank and brutal. Here is material on the net for which we can “get” you and here is material that we do not want. And here is the quid pro quo, take down one on your own what we don’t want and we will protect you on the other. If you don’t, we will see you are in trouble.

Of course we all know that Internet has material that violates Indian laws. Some of it is legal in other countries. The power of Internet is that it is one common cyberspace, the net does not fragment into Indian net, the Chinese net, the US net and so on. If we want the net to obey only our laws, it means creating an Indian net and seceding from the rest. Something the Chinese seem to be trying, though with only limited success. So here was an opportunity — create a legal regime for the net which would allow its current free character and yet take out or block material that we consider illegal. If India wanted to go down this path, this would have been indeed welcome. And it would have joined a number of countries that are grappling with this very issue.

Sibal chose to take another path. He thought that the ambiguity of law that exists on the net could be used to the advantage of the ruling party. The Internet platforms — social networking sites, Google and its search engine, blogging sites — are all intermediaries. They and the Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) provide our access to the net. So if he could make these players carry out his wishes, he could create a China like Internet without the Government having to do anything — the Internet platforms and ISP’s would do it for him. A Chinese model of control with a distinctive Indian twist — the markets could be used to do the Government’s bidding — private censorship carried out at Government’s behest.

Google and Facebook are there for making money from their users. For them, every user of their platforms are “products” to be sold to advertisers. This is the same as the Television channels — more the eyeballs more the advertisers are willing to pay. So Sibal’s calculation was given the size of the Indian market, these players would cave in and privately censor the net for him. Freedom on the net is not what drives the Internet platforms — they have their business to protect.

The problem for the Internet platforms  is that what Sibal is asking is completely arbitrary — how will they as private parties take down material that Sibal might think is bad? Who would tell them to take down material and how would this be communicated?And if they accept this for India, would they in turn have to do it for other countries as well. They would have to develop country specific tools —  for example no general search engine but only a country specific one. A regime that would not work in the long run even as a business. For them, the operational difficulties make such a regime unworkable.

Sibal and his net czar, a Gulshan Rai in the Department of IT obviously believe all this is easy. It is in line with a similar understanding that Pakistan Government has — it has recently advertised for a software tool that is capable of filtering out up to 50 million Web addresses in multiple languages with a processing delay of one millisecond. In other words a godlike censor! What Sibal is trying is that all ISP’s Internet platforms does what Pakistan Government wants but at their own cost.

Leaving aside who develops it, is such a filtering scheme feasible? This is where technology has to meet law — we need a legal regime that understands the limits of technology. Not one where we say this is the law as we see it and technology can go hang itself.

All new technologies create new legal issues. The legal problems of the Internet is the result of new digital technologies..The Internet is new and so is user generated content. It has created a scenario in which we no longer need mass media to reach the people. If the message strikes a resonance, the people will amplify the message.  It is not the only area — copyright regime is also affected by digital technologies. We either modify the laws or create new laws to deal with such issues. This is the only sensible option a country has today. An option that Sibal did not exercise.

That is why we are all wishing him a Happy April Fool’s Day.

Join the Campaign ” Save your Voice “

Operation Green Hunt Enters New Phase


Sanhati, March 29, 2012

by Sudha Bharadwaj

It is quite evident that after the phase of “Salwa Judum” and the phase of “Operation Green Hunt”, anti-Naxal operations have entered a new phase variously called “Operation Haka” and “Operation Vijay”.

While certain media reports present very different pictures of this Operation [see appendixes], both the spokespersons of the Security Forces and Maoists claim that this Operation took place in the Abujhmaad/Maad area fairly deep in the forests; a large number of joint paramilitary forces about 3000 in number participated.

While the police reports speak of Naxalite camps destroyed, Maoists encountered and arrested, the Maoist spokesperson claims that houses were burnt down, adivaasi villagers were beaten, including beaten to death, and those arrested have not been produced before courts.

During the phase of “Salwa Judum” about 500 deaths were documented on affidavit in a part of South Bastar alone, and these affidavits have been filed in the Supreme Court by Kartam Joga and others. Kartam Joga is a senior CPI leader who is now in jail on false allegations of participating in the Tadmetla attack on the CRPF. This case, linked with the Nandini Sundar case, is awaiting final adjudication in the Supreme Court.

Another list of 192 extra judicial killings, alleged to have occurred in Dantewada during Operation Green Hunt, between 2009 and 2011, has been submitted by the National PUCL with a request for investigation/enquiry before the NHRC, but no action seems to have been taken so far.

In the above circumstances, certain issues arise before us in the human rights community.

Free and independent reporting in the media of the ongoing Operations would be the only source of information regarding what is happening in these interior areas. How do we, together with journalists associations, ensure journalists are protected ?

Since an extremely hostile atmosphere has been created vis-à-vis Civil Liberties groups in Chhattisgarh, particularly in Bastar, Dantewada, how do we collectively set up some effective and sufficiently high powered human rights monitoring ?

How do we ensure that earlier enquiries pending before the NHRC are completed effectively and expeditiously ?

The recent affidavit of the CBI in the Supreme Court that, when they went to investigate the Morpalli-Tadmetla-Timmapur arson incident, as directed by the Supreme Court, they were fired upon by the Chhattisgarh Auxiliary Force (SPOs) is particularly an issue of great concern, and the manner in which it is dealt with by the Supreme Court would be very important.

Since, in the circumstances, the possibility of killings of non-combatant villagers is enormous, how do we campaign to ensure strict adherence to the NHRC guidelines that whenever a complaint is made alleging that an encounter is a false one, it must be effectively and fairly investigated into ?

The role of the judiciary when arrested persons are not produced before the courts is crucial. If habeas corpus petitions are not effective in the High Court, should we consider moving the Supreme Court directly ?

The Government is in a denial mode in which officially there is no armed conflict in this area. It is thus protecting itself from the operation of international conventions relating to the protection of human rights. How can this be effectively
countered ?

Please do send your comments and suggestions.

Sudha Bharadwaj
General Secretary
Chhattisgarh PUCL.

Appendix A : Nai Dunia (Bilaspur Edition, 19th March 2012)

Naxalite firing on helicopter in Abujhmaad

Narayanpur. In Operation Vijay carried out by the police for five days with the purpose of liberating three villages in Naxalite-dominated Abujhmaad from the Naxalites, the police liberated three villages Jatwaar, Hikonaar, and Toke where the Naxalites had their school, Anganwadi and farmhouse. During this operation the police demolished several camps of the Naxalites. In about a dozen encounters three Naxalites were arrested. One of these was a member of the Childrens’ Action Team.

The Superintendent of Police said that in the course of this when the helicopter reached to take the injured jawaans, the Naxalites fired on it, due to which two bullets hit the helicopter but no major incident occurred. During the operation the police recovered apart from weapons, explosives, a large quantity of Naxalite literature, articles of daily use and pamphlets. SP Mayank Shrivastava, after returning from the 5 day operation said that that there had been continuous information that in three villages of the Ghamandi Panchayat of Abujhmaad – Toke, Hikonaar and Jatvar – where Naxalites had established their empire and were running their own school and anganwaadi (crèche) and were working against democracy. At the same place there had been information that the villagers were cultivating crops on their own lands for them.

On this basis a joint team of the Police which included 8 Officers and jawans of the CRPF, COBRA, and District Police Force left for the jungles of Abujhmaad under the name of Operation Vijay, since there are no means of transportation in Abujhmaad. In this way it took about 2 to 3 days to cover a distance of about 45 km. In order to reach these villages, encounters with Naxalites took place about a dozen times in which two jawaans of the COBRA were also injured. There is also a possibility that several Naxalites were also killed in these encounters though they were not successful in recovering even one dead body. But there is information that one senior Naxalite has been injured. In these encounters several camps of Naxalites were demolished. In these camps, a large quantity of Naxal literature, and items of daily use were also recovered, but since the distance was too much so most of the recovered materials were destroyed on the spot.

SP Mr Shrivastava said that when the helicopter had come to Jatvar to airlift the injured jawaans, during that time the Naxalites had also fired on the helicopter owing to which 2 bullets hit the helicopter. During the operation three Naxalites were arrested with weapons – Ghasiraam Vadde, Betia Ram Vadde and Sadhuram of the Baal Action Team (Children’s Action Team) were arrested. One 303 Rifle, one 12 bore gun and 4 Bharmaar guns (country made), a large quantity of live cartridges, electric wire, multimeter, Printer, Naxal literature, Naxalite uniforms etc were recovered. Apart from this there are allegations that Jenigota and another person were injured in police firing. It was also alleged that rice, lentils, chickens and other household items were looted from several houses. Naxalites have said that Boye, Raju, Paali, Maalu, Mangi were beaten up very badly and Sanuu Podadi, Vakte Badde of Ikunaar; and Lalsu Vedde, Vitiya Vedde …. [incomplete in the newspaper]

Appendix B : Patrika (Bilaspur Edition, 20th March 2012)

Police entered Abujhmaad for the first time

Operation Haka – Explosives and arms found in large quantity. Dozens of camps of Maoists destroyed, Operation went on in 450 km thick jungle.

Reached in these areas :

[1] From Chhotedongar, Mardapaal, Kaknaar, and Bhatpaal up to Killam.
[2] From Matwaada and Bhairamgarh in Beejapur to Lekhavaada and Podgu.
[3] From Gadchiroli to Kohkameta, Iraqbhatti, Toke.

For the first time police entered 80 km within the stronghold of the Maoists. Chhattisgarh Police and CRPF carried out searching operations with 3000 strong force. In this period 13 Maoists were arrested and dozens of camps were destroyed. This Operation was carried out to raise the morale of the Police force. This major action was carried out two years after the bar on entering Abujhmaad had been lifted. According to DGP Anil Navaani, in this Operation named “Haka”, the police entered inaccessible jungle areas and destroyed the Maoist camps of Lekhavaada and Podgu.

Appendix C : Navbharat (Raipur Edition, 24th March 2012)

Terror of the Security Forces in Abujhmaad

On the lines of Salwa Judum, houses were burnt, adivaasis beaten up, death of two persons, several injured.

Naxalites alleged that the police is clearing the way for the Army.

Conspiracy is being hatched to chase off the adivaasis from Maad. Claiming that this Operation was a part of Green Hunt, Naxalite leader said that the armed forces, on the one hand, run the Civic Action Programme, and on the other, on the lines of Salwa Judum, they are hatching new conspiracies each day to burn houses, and to chase away adivaasis from Maad, so that the multinational corporations can capture the minerals and forest wealth of this area.

Raipur. Navbharat Samachar. The Naxalites were alleging that in the name of Operation, the security forces have wreaked terror on the adivaasis. During the Operation conducted from 13th to 18th March, the Security Forces raided a dozen villages in the Abujhmaad area and beat up several adivaasis, owing to which they have sustained injuries. The Naxalites have alleged that in this Operation some villagers have also been killed.

Through the statement and photographs released by the Maad-North Bastar Divisional Committee, its Secretary KA said that in these villages the security forces of Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra conducted joint operations in these villages and caused large scale mayhem, to which the PLGA has also countered. In this encounter two jawaans of the COBRA battalion were injured. Naxalites have claimed that they have seized the rations of the security forces. It was alleged that this operation by the Security Forces was in order to clear the way for the Army. The Naxalite leader in his statement has said that the villagers of Godelmarka, Ikonaar, Jetvaaya, Podenaar and Toke villages have been affected the most. It has been said that an adivaasi named Dunga has been killed in the course of beating. It has also been said that some houses of the adivaasis have also been burnt. Idma Karu of Kodenaar has not been produced before the court even after being arrested by the police. In this statement issued, it was said that more than 3000 jawaans of the CRPF, STF, COBRA and BSF were involved.

Faking Democracy- Operation Green Hunt

Jeetan Marandi still behind Bars,after being acquitted by Jharkahnd HC


THURSDAY, 29 MARCH 2012,MUKESH RANJAN , Zee News

After being acquitted from the Jharkhand High Court in Chilkhari murder case and securing bail in other three cases, Jeetan Marandi had long been waiting for his release from the Birsa Munda Central Jail (BMCJ), but the battle has not ended yet. He will have to fight more to secure his release from the jail.

The jail authorities cleared that he has not been released as his release order has not reached them yet. “Even if we get his release order, we cannot allow him to go as charges under Crime Control Act (CCA) have been imposed on him in Giridih,” said Narendra Singh, jailer of BMCJ.

The State Government has imposed CCA against him in Giridih. Now Jeetan will have to wait till he is cleared from the CCA. “Jeetan got to know about the charges under the new Act imposed on him when he was asked to sign in a document in the jail by the jail authorities. He was told that the CCA has been imposed on him,” said his friend Sushant, who met Jeetan on Wednesday at the prison.

“I met him today in jail where he told me that the Act has been imposed on him, we also checked and found it to be true,” added Sushant. Jeetan has been in jail for the last four years.

The Jharkhand High Court had acquitted the four accused in Chilkhari murder case on December 15, 2011. Giving them the ‘benefit of doubt’ the court said that it could not punish these people on the basis of the witnesses who themselves are of criminal background. Jeetan, Chattar Mandal, Manoj Rajwar and Anil Ram were first awarded death sentence by Additional Sessions Judge at Giridih on June 22, 2011. Jeetan Marandi and other three were convicted under Sections 143, 342, 379, 149, 120B, 30, 149, Copyright Licensing Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act along with Section 302.

According to the close associates and relatives of Jeetan, “his acquittal has made the government ‘dejected’ hence they do not want him to come out of jail. As soon as he comes out the jail, he will expose the State government,” said Sushant.

Meanwhile, Jeetan’s lawyer SK Murary said that Jeetan could be kept in jail for 12 more days as it is valid for 12 days only. “The Court will send it to the State Govt for its approval. The state government will then have to send it to the advisory board comprising High Court Judge and District Judge within three weeks to consider how justified is his detention,” said Murary.

Despite its dispatch on March 16, 2012 from the Giridh Court, Jeetan’s release order had not reached the BMCJ till Wednesday, further strengthening fears of Jeetan’s family and friends that the Government has a strong intention to keep him behind bars.