An open letter to Shri Manna Dey- Call for endorsements


Dear Manna da,                                                                                                          

Last week brought us shock by the West Bengal Police’s brutal assault on a peaceful demonstration of students in Kolkata, killing a young activist, Sudipto Gupta, and inflicting serious injuries to many students. While the victim was battling for his life, the Chief Minister, who is also in charge of the police department, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, was active in the Indian Premier League (IPL) opening ceremony extravaganza. With stains of blood in her hand, within a day, she came down to Bangalore to “honour” you!

Our question before you, Manna da, is as follows.

Do you really need this “honour” from her, who has blood in her hands? Did you not check her record before you gave your approval to this “honour”?

Is it not a tragic irony that while you are a musical genius, the boy’s father, an unknown violinist, is also a musician? While the bereaved father plays the tune of mourning, can you – Manna da, accept this “honour” from a person, who publicly label the brutal custodial death of a student a ‘petty matter’ – who is the cause of it?

You have enthralled us with your unforgettable Puchho na kaisey mayne rayen beetayee..? Can you ask the same question to Sudipto’s father and sister, as to how, they spent the dark night of April 2, 2013 and thereafter?

Manna da, your voice became ours, when you sang Manbo na e bondhoney, manbo na e shrinkhaley (We shall not accept these chains that shackle us). That still is our aspiration. We are sure that you too have not strayed away from that.

This reminds us of an episode in the life of Bhagat Singh. An admirer of of Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh was shocked when Lajpat Rai joined the communal organization, The Hindu Mahasabha. In agony, the young freedom fighter, Bhagat Singh , wrote a letter of protest to his leader, quoting from Robert Browning’s poem, The Lost Leader, which was Browning’s condemnation of Wordsworth’s betrayal of the cause of “liberty, equality and fraternity”. The poem begins with the words, Just for a handful of silver he left us. It pains us to believe that you could have accepted this “honour” from Ms. Banerjee “just for a handful of silver.”

And, it would always give us pain, to say about you,

We, who had loved him so, followed him, honoured him,

Lived in his mild and magnificent eye…..

…..He alone breaks from the van and the free-men,

He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves!

It would, hence be a great sorrow for us to say,

 

Blot out his name then, record one lost soul more,

One task more declined, one more footpath untrod,

One more devil’s triumph and sorrow for angels,

One wrong more to man, one more insult to God.

We are sure that what has happened is a cynical ploy by a discredited political agency to purchase credibility, by making you a victim of it. We, in no way would like to allow your name to be linked with them. For it was your voice which described them as,

Anna ditey narey bubhukkhu janataye,

Kantha rodh karey lathi raifele.

(Those who do not give food to the hungry mouths but throttle their voice with batons and rifles.)

But Manna da, we do not believe in infallibility of humans, even of the greatest of the great. We want you in our midst and thus request you to return this “one gift”. As Rabindra Nath Tagore had said, while returning the knighthood to the British crown in the wake of the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre, “The time has come when badges of honour make our shame glaring in the incongruous context of humiliation.”

Please, do consider whether the time has come for you too, to “give voice to the protest of millions of my countrymen, surprised into dumb anguish of terror.”

Do not be shackled, Manna da, by this “honour”, which heaps insult on you.

Manbo na e bondhone,  manbo na e shrinkhale

Mukto manusher swadhinata adhikar, kharba korey jara ghrinnyo koushaley…

(We shall not accept these chains that shackle us

We will unshackle from those, whose shameful machinations trample upon the right to liberty of free human beings.)

With reverential honour to you from the depth of our hearts.

Sd/-

Subhankar Chakraborty,

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human rights activist, Mumbai

 

(If you agree pl sign in the comment section, name, org/profession, city

SFI activist’s death in Kolkata : Protests break out in Chennai, New Delhi


POLITICS NEWS, Posted on Apr 03, 2013 a

New Delhi: Protesters took to the streets in New Delhi and Chennai after a Students Federation of India activist Sudipto Gupta was killed in Kolkata allegedly by the police during a crackdown in the city on Wednesday. The police tried to stop the demonstrators as they chanted slogans and marched with Gupta’s posters.

21 protestors were arrested in Chennai while police deployment was increased outside Banga Bhawan in New Delhi. Meanwhile, under pressure from opposition, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee termed the episode as “unfortunate”, but evaded a question on whether a judicial probe would be ordered as demanded by the CPI-M.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O’Brien added a tragedy should not be politicised. “We should not politicise a tragedy. Chief Minister visited the family of the deceased and offered her condolences. It shows what she is made up of,” O’Brien said.

Gupta, a student of MA at Rabindra Bharati University, was admitted to a hospital with severe internal hemorrhage but later succumbed to his injuries. The activist was beaten up while he was being taken to the Presidency Jail, sources sai

 

Mamata Banerjee links rise in rape cases to population increase #Vaw #WTFnews


PTI/ IANS  : Kolkata, Fri Mar 22 2013, 17:43 hrs
Mamata Banerjee

 

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today linked rising cases of rapes to increase in the population, while claiming that there were only 45 such cases till November 2012 in Kolkata in comparison to 621 in Delhi in the same year.

“The population is increasing. Is the population in West Bengal the same as it was during the time of Bidhan Chandra Roy? You have raised many questions on law order. You are saying that rapes are increasing,” Banerjee told the Assembly.

“The population is increasing, cars are increasing, infrastructure is increasing, shopping malls are increasing. Inoxes (multiplex) are coming up. Young people are becoming modern. Don’t you welcome it?” she asked while winding up the debate on the Governor’s address.

Alleging that newspapers were deliberately exaggerating rape cases, she said earlier women felt shy of reporting such cases.

“There has been an increase in social consciousness. Now they are registering complaints. This is a good sign. Earlier complaints were not even registered,” the chief minister said.

Stating that there should not be even one case of rape, she cited statistics for Kolkata saying that there were 44 rape cases in 2007, 35 in 2008, 42 in 2009, 32 in 2010, 38 in 2011 and 45 in 2012.

In the state there were 1,673 rape cases in 2005, 1,693 in 2006, 2,062 in 2007, 2,228 in 2008, 2,292 in 2009, 2,279 in 2010, 1,650 in 2011 and 1,836 up to November in 2012.

In 2011 there were 453 rape cases in Delhi, 221 in Mumbai, 97 in Bangalore, and 76 in Chennai, she said adding that in 2012, there were 621 rapes in Delhi.

The opposition has been accusing the state government of its incapability in controlling atrocities like rape against women.

In October 2012, while speaking at a programme in the city, Banerjee had accused the media of glorifying rape and pointed to the more permissive society.

“Earlier, if men and women held hands, parents would reprimand them. Now everything is done openly. It’s like an open market with open options,” Banerjee had said.

The chief minister had also courted a controversy in February 2012 when she termed the allegation of an Anglo-Indian woman that she was raped inside a moving car in the posh Park Street area as “cooked up to malign her government”.

Painter Samir Aich lashed out against Banerjee.

“Only political leaders can give such logic. It defies common sense. Going by the same logic, murders and other crimes should also go up if population increases. We know such crimes can increase even if the population decreases if there is administrative laxity,” Aich told IANS.

 

#India- Prisons shut away from all human rights


Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 24, 2013
West Bengal‘s Dum Dum Central Jail could put the notorious Abu Ghraib in a shade going by some of the disturbing incidents which have taken place there recently. A mere request for better food earned Bikram Mahato, undergoing trial for murder, a severe beating after which he was handcuffed and  kept naked in a cell. And this is not an isolated incident in this jail. When Mahato had complained about the quality of the food in 2010, the authorities in a cruel response forced him to drink a solution of bleaching powder. In the same year, Sheikh Farhat Mahmood was stripped and beaten in Kolkata‘s Presidency Central Jail for wanting some time out of his cell. What compounds this brutality is the fact that all these were undertrials, presumed innocent until proven guilty for the crimes that they are accused of.The government estimates that undertrials make for 67% of its prison population. According to a report released by the National Crime Records Bureau in 2011, the number of undertrials in the country was 2,41,200. The fact that there are more undertrials than there are convicts suggests that the system is dragging its feet over the fate of many who may be innocent. There is merit in the advice that  undertrials and convicts be kept separately. But the real issue here is judicial delays and with this often the miscarriage of justice. There were 66,569 cases still pending in the Supreme Court at the end of January 2013, and at the end of 2011, there were still 3.2 crore cases awaiting resolution in the higher and subordinate courts. Some like Machang Lalung waited for 54 years in a prison. Charged with physical assault when he was 23, the Assamese tribal was surprisingly never tried. In 2007, he was freed at the age of 77. He died in 2009, two years after his release. There was no recompense for a lifetime of wrongful captivity.

An advisory issued to states by the central government this month gives cause for some hope. Wanting to correct the systemic wrongs that see undertrials imprisoned for indefinite lengths of time, the Centre has asked states to release all such individuals, if and when they complete half the sentence their presumed offence demands. While rampant poverty and illiteracy among undertrials seem to have informed such a measure, the happenings at Dum Dum Central Jail cannot be allowed to slide. If West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wants to put an end to the rot in the state’s prisons, she could take a leaf out of UP‘s book where 71 undertrial prisoners are appearing for board examinations this year. She must understand that this sort of trial by error is hardly in the interest of the people who looked to her for a more humane form of governance.

#India -Culture of deceit #UID #Afzalguru


 

DC | Antara Dev Sen | 19th Feb 2013
We live in a robust culture of deceit. We routinely lie, cheat, deceive, steal, rob and act in bad faith, in the public domain. When lied to, we don’t even raise an eyebrow.
Last week, I went to register for the National Population Register (NPR). The booth, im­pr­e­ssively flashing assorted gadgets to collect biometric data, appeared — even more impressively — to be multi-tasking. To some it offered NPR, to others it promised the UID (Unique Identity number) or Aadhaar card. This pleased ma­ny, who had no clue abo­ut NPR but were convinced that Aadhaar was a compulsory magic wand. “They won’t let us stay in Delhi without it,” said my maid, a mig­rant from another state. “This is our work permit for Delhi,” expla­i­ned another kindly. “We won’t be given gas cylinders without this,” said someone else. “They will give us money if we show this”, beamed yet another. The confusion over Aadhaar was as­tounding. But some of us had reservations about Aadhaar and did not want it, which we told the officers. This was not Aadhaar, they assu­red us. The form asks whether you want to share this data, and you can tick “no,” Relieved, we did just that. And we were immediately iss­ued an Aadhaar receipt with the NPR registration. Seeing our shock at this discovery one kind officer said, “Never mi­nd, you have done your duty. The rest is not in your hands.” So true. Clearly, the Bhagavad Gita was written with 21st-century babudom in mind.
The government never lets truth come in the way of a good proclamation. So we were first told that enrolling for the UID or Aadhaar was entirely voluntary, not mandatory. Then they linked it to several government schemes and made it impossible for citizens to access their rights and benefits without it. It was not mandatory, like it is not mandatory to wear a parachute. But you “opt” for the parachute if you are to be pushed out of an airplane.
We have, through generations, perfected the art of public deception. We don’t even flinch when we see enormous lies being paraded as the truth in public. Rece­n­tly, Afzal Guru was sec­r­etly executed in jail. The state knew fully well that the prisoner had a constitutional right to meet his family one last time. That he had a constitutional right to judicial review of the President’s rejection of his mercy petition. The state knew that it would be wrong to kill the man before the due process of law had been completed. It knew that it would be wrong to kill the man without allowing his mother, his wife and his little son to meet him one last time. The state knew but did not care. And once it was over, the state lied to us all.
Home minister Sushil­kumar Shinde brazenly declared: “I have information that the family has been intimated.” The letter informing Afzal’s wife Tabassum that the President had rejected her mercy petition reached her on February 11, two days after her husband was hanged. Dated February 6, it was sent by Speed-post from New Delhi to remote Sopore in Kashmir on February 8, the day before Afzal’s execution. Shinde found nothing wrong in that: “The letter was sent by jail officials as per rules.” It informed her that the mercy petition had been rejected and that at 8 am on February 9, Afzal would be executed. It ended with: “This is for your information and further action.” The authorities knew that Tabassum would not get it in time for any “further action.” It was a meaningless sen­tence. It was “just a formality.”
You know that phrase, right? “Sign here, ple­a­se, no need to read it. It’s just a formality.” This is the marginalisation of rules, where rules that were supposed to gro­und us in truth and make justice more acce­ssible are made irrelevant by cle­ver disrespect. Slowly, the dema­nds of truth and justice, the ideas of fairness, equality and freedom are all reduced to “just a formality.”
For centuries, we have known that statements in bad faith, even if technically true, are untru­ths. In the battlefield of Mahabharata, Yu­dhis­thira, who never lied, was asked by Drona whether his son Ash­wathama had indeed been killed. “Ashwa­tha­ma hata (Ashwathama is dead),” declared Yu­dhisthira as planned, and muttered “iti gaja (the elephant, that is)”. (Also known as “naro va kunjaro va,” that is “ei­ther the man or the elephant.”) This was Yu­dhis­thira’s lie. The Mahabharata makes it ab­solutely clear that Yudhisthira had cheated, that this was deception even though his statem­ent was technically true. So why do we allow our ministers to cheat us?
Deception is a pillar of Indian politics. Election promises are an elaborate exercise in deceit. We proudly flaunt lies. Like Mamata Banerjee, then railway minister, taking out newspaper advertisements posing as a Muslim woman. In a make-believe namaaz shot, wearing the hijab, she announced a new railway line and a nursing college as Id gifts. She used the public ex­chequer to promote herself by misrepresenting facts — portraying herself as a Muslim and pa­rading development projects as her gifts to Muslims. As a reward, we made her the queen of Bengal.
What was once unthinkable is acceptable today. Like the idea that Narendra Modi, widely believed to be the architect of the 2002 Gujarat massacre of Muslims, can be elected PM in our liberal democracy. But why not? We take the mockery of justice in our stride. Bal Thackeray, believed to have orchestrated the Bombay riots of 1992-93, lived like a king and got a state funeral. Leaders and ministers responsible for the 1984 massacre of Sikhs in Delhi were grandly rewarded. L.K. Advani, as Union home minister, supervised the probe on his own role in the Babri Masjid demolition.
A culture of deceit breeds a culture of im­p­unity that has enormous cos­ts. It changes us irrevocably. Truth becomes ir­relevant as we float bet­ween several manufactured realities. Our idea of public reasoning is to create an echo chamber for our more powerful voices. Dissenters are welcome to bark from the fringes, of course, since we are a democracy that promises free speech. But for how long?
Like in everyday life, in public life, too, truth and justice have been replaced by the hollow PR mannerisms. We are grateful to leaders who, having failed to deliver on all fronts, announce: “We understand your concern. Have a nice day.” We do not expect the truth. But unlike banks and mutual funds that also make trick promises, our politicians do not offer legal warnings in fine print. While nurturing this  deep-seated culture of deceit, can we really tell our children not to lie?

 

Trinamool MP against media censorship


Icon for censorship

 

 

 

Ananya Dutta, The Hindu, Jan 13, 2013

 

In the 20 months since the Trinamool Congress came to power in West Bengal, the government has been mired in controversies regarding suppression of freedom of expression, so senior party MP Saugata Roy’s remarks that he did not believe in censorship of the media here on Saturday appeared to be in a contrarian vein.

“I think the media should be left alone. That is why I am strongly against any form of censorship of the media,” Mr. Roy said at a panel discussion on “Has the media failed the people?” moderated by journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.

Mr. Roy said that he did not think that media controls voters and he was not among those politicians to have “a love-hate relationship with the media.”

“When a person goes out to vote, he votes on the basis of his own experience, not on the basis of what is written in the press or what is broadcast in the media,” he added.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has often spoken against a section of the media, on occasion specifying television channels that she believes spread lies and canards about her government.

Her government has come under scrutiny for a notification that prescribed a limited list of newspapers that public libraries could subscribe to, even as allegations were made that certain papers are being denied government advertisements.

At the panel discussion, there was no consensus on whether the media had failed the people with Mr. Roy believing that it had “by and large failed the country” on the one hand and the editor of Aaj Tak and Headlines Today Rahul Khanwal proposing that it had not, largely because it is a “self-correcting animal.”

Admitting that “the media is guilty of a lot of sins” in recent times, from poor language to the cancer of paid news, Siddharth Varadarajan, editor of The Hindu argued “that the Indian media today does a far better job of informing the Indian public than it used to do thirty or forty years ago.”

He also pointed out that there are several other institutions which are also failing the people, citing the example of an expose of a fake encounter in Jammu and Kashmir that was conducted in March 2000. But a decade later, the trials of guilty soldiers were yet to commence.

“At the end of the day if you don’t trigger correction at the judicial level, at the political level or at the level of civil society, then there is only so much we can do,” he said.

Actor Rahul Bose turned the argument on its head questioning whether it was the people of India who had failed their media.

“After we finished collectively exulting at Ram Leela Maidan or lighting candles at India Gate or collectively shouting ourselves hoarse in some public forum we wait for the next problem to burst. Do we sustain the pressure? Do we support, recognise, encourage or fund organisations that have been fighting for those very causes for decades? Do we change attitudes within us,” he asked.

While Mr. Roy spoke at length about the change in the media from pre-Independence days to present times, Rudranghshu Mukherjee, editor of the editorial pages of The Telegraph, argued that the fall in ethical standards among politicians had been far greater than that among journalists.

Civil society activist Anjali Bhardwaj described at length the expectations that civil society has from the media and the extent to which it had fulfilled them. The session was organised by the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce

 

#India- No trial by mob: The answer to gangrape cannot be gang justice #Vaw


by  Jan 7, 2013, Firstpost

When the police finally filed a chargesheet against the five adults accused in the gang rape case, according to media reports, some women lawyers shouted in the courtroom that there was no need for a trial because it was an “open and shut case” and the accused should be “handed over to the public”. They were shushed by colleagues quickly but it’s still disquieting.

It’s one thing for the public to be baying for blood. It’s another matter entirely when lawyers want to dispense with the legal process altogether.

Yes, temperatures are white hot. Yes, this crime was particularly brutal. Yes, there is a need for some cases to become exemplary cases.

The crowd protesting the Delhi rape demanded everything from public hanging to lynching for the convicts. AFP.

But this is not a gang for a gang. The answer to gang rape cannot be gang justice.

It’s not unexpected that the great festering anger over a complete lack of governance that turns something as basic as boarding a bus into a game of Russian roulette will stay contained in candlelight vigils and silent marches. It can easily take an ugly turn. And it already has in more than one instance.

On December 22, five alleged eve teasers were beaten to death by villagers in Jharkhand’s Khuti district.  “We were fed up with their misbehaviour with women of the villages,” a villager told a news channel.

On January 3, a 25-year-old stalker tried drag a 16-year-old girl towards some abandoned jute mills near Howrah in West Bengal. Alerted by her cries, some commuters came to her rescue. They thrashed the man who would have been lynched had the police not been able to somehow extricate him. By then the man was bleeding profusely from head injuries. A local resident told the TOI “Such people should be dealt with by the public. It is no use handing them over to the police.”

On January 3, Assam Congressman Bikram Singh Brahma was thrashed and stripped by angry men and women  after he was accused of raping a woman in a village in Chirang district. The villagers refused to hand him over to the police and demanded the officers record him confessing to the rape first.

And it’s not just men at the receiving end of mob justice.

On December 28, a woman was lynched by locals in Kolkata’s Topsia area. Locals suspected she was a trafficker after several young women went missing in the area. The woman was hit on the head with blunt objects and died in the hospital. “She broke down and confessed to have trafficked girls,” a local told the media.

All of this is worrying not just because mob justice is always worrying. It’s worrying also because it clearly shows people have absolutely no faith in the system of governance to deliver justice. As is clear in the Brahma case, villagers were convinced that a man with connections to the ruling party would never have to really face the consequences of his action if he was just handed over to the police. The residents in Howrah thought it no use handing the molestation suspect over to the cops.

Offences are non-bailable on paper but in practice it just depends on who you know. A man arrested in Kolkata on Wednesday this week on charges of holding a 24-year-old woman captive in his home for a fortnight and molesting her walked out on interim bail on Thursday even though one of the charges against him is non-bailable. “It is unusual for a person accused of extortion and wrongful confinement to be granted bail within a day of his arrest,” a senior cop admitted to The Telegraph. The university professor who forwards a cartoon that lampooned Mamata Banerjee spent 16 hours in police custody. The Trinamool Congress supporters who were eventually arrested for beating him up after a public outcry walked free on bail in less than three hours.

What’s on trial in the Delhi gang rape case isn’t just the men accused of committing the crime. The government itself is on trial in how transparently and efficiently it handles the case. But as it wades through 17,000 suggestions for how to tackle violence against women, one of its biggest challenges will be restoring the citizens’ faith in the system itself.

It’s hard to find much room in ones hearts for any sympathy for rapists. But those who think a little mob justice is not so bad if it strikes fear in the heart of would-be rapists, consider what happened in Topsia not so long ago.

A few days after the woman was lynched in Topsia on suspicion of being a trafficker, another woman was walking in that area with her toddler. The toddler threw a tantrum and would not stop crying. Locals immediately surrounded the woman and started slapping her and accusing her of having stolen the child which caused the toddler to cry even louder feeding the mob’s frenzy even more.

This young mother was lucky. The police managed to get there in time to rescue her.

The next person might not be so lucky.

 

Dissident Trinamool MP Kabir says Maoists helped Mamata win Assembly polls


Express news service Posted online: Sat Jan 05 2013,
Kolkata : Fresh Row: CPM demands CM to explain ‘TMC-Maoist nexus’Dissident Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman on Friday told a news channel that Maoists were very much involved in the Nandigram movement and that Mamata Banerjee’s party would not have won a single seat in West Midnapore had there been no Kishenji or Maoists.

“What I have learnt from my political friends is that if there were no Maoists or Kishenji, Mamata would not have won a single seat in West Midnapore. This is what I feel even though I do not know much about politics. People on the streets have helped me understand this,” Suman said.

After trouble broke out in Lalgarh, the CPM had repeatedly claimed that the Trinamool had a nexus with the Maoists in West Midnapore —- a charge that was dismissed by Mamata.

Referring to the Nandigram movement, Suman told the news channel that neither Mamata nor the Trinamool was (initially) in the Nandigram mass upsurge.

“Naxalite leader Sumit Sinha and many others including Siddiqullah Chowdhury were there in the Nandigram movement. The Maoist outfit was not banned in the country (when the Nandigram movement took place). They were declared banned much later. They operated openly (in Nandigram). Among others, Maoists were also there (in Nandigram). Maoists were there (in Nandigram) like many other independent persons. This is not a confession. I am stating the truth,” Suman said.

“If you ask me whether I have seen any Maoist leader building organisation (in Nandigram), I will say that I have not seen anyone,” he added.

Although Trinamool has not reacted to Suman’s statement, sources said the party neither wants to give importance to the rebel MP, nor to his allegations of a nexus with Maoists. This was evident from party secretary general Partha Chatterjee’s statement. Asked to comment on Suman’s statement, Chatterjee said, “I have not heard anything. I am busy in office.”

CPM central committee leader Mohammed Selim demanded that Mamata explain how she had “used the Maoists”.

“Land was not the real issue in Nandigram. The extremists and fundamentalists from both Hindu and Muslim communities got united at that time only to oust the CPM. The Maoists too were co-partners and were used by the Trinamool. The Maoists have accepted this. Now Mamata must explain how she used the Maoists,” Selim said.

 

Women crossing their limits, like Sita, will be punished: BJP minister #WTFnews #Vaw #Rape


Published: Friday, Jan 4, 2013, 10:40 IST
Agency: ANI

Kailash Vijayvargiya

Madhya Pradesh industry minister Kailash Vijayvargiya statement that women, who breach their moral limits deserve punishment, has caused a major embarrassment for the main opposition party BJP. Vijayvargiya joins the growing list of politicians who have made derogatory remarks against women.

Recently, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, one of her party colleagues Kakoli Ghosh, and President Pranab Mukherjee‘s son had joined the list of politicians who had cast aspersions on the character of victims of sexual harassment.

Senior Madhya Pradesh BJP leader Vijayvargiya said quoting Ramayana, “Ek hi shabd hai – Maryada. Maryada ka ulanghan hota hai, toh Sita-haran ho jata hai. Laxman-rekha har vyakti ki khichi gayi hai. Us Laxman-rekha ko koi bhi par karega, toh Rawan samne baitha hai, woh Sita-haran karke le jayega. (There is only one word: limit. When limit is crossed, Sita is apprehended. There is a Laxman rekha for all. Whoever crosses this limit will confront Rawan waiting, and Sita will be kidnapped)”

He further said that if a woman crosses her limits she will be punished, just like Sita was abducted by Ravana.

Explaining that everyone is worried and society has to think why such incidents are happening, Vijayvargiya said added not only political parties but also people who lead the society have to think over it seriously He said just making tough laws cannot control such incidents and “we need to think seriously upon it. I think these incidents are happening where the dignity is being breached.”

 

Fettering the fourth estate: Free Speech in 2012 #Censorship #FOE #media


Icon for censorship

Icon for censorship (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

JANUARY 2, 2013, hoot.org

 

 

Fettering the Fourth Estate: Free Speech in 2012

report of the Free Speech Hub of the Hoot.org

The year 2012 ended with a Kannada TV reporter, Naveen Soorinje, in jail for more than fifty days after the Karnataka High Court denied him bail. Mangalore-based Soorinje, was incarcerated from November 7, 2012 after police charged him under the UAPA and under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for reporting on the raid on a homestay party by a Hindu fundamentalist group in July. Soorinje’s bail application was rejected on December 26.

The same month, a television journalist, Nanao Singh, was shot dead in a police firing in Manipur.

In 2012, India was a grim place for free speech. It recorded the death of five journalists. Another 38 were assaulted, harassed or threatened.    There were 43 instances of curbs on the Internet, 14 instances of censorship in the film and music industry, and eight instances of censorship of content in the print medium.

The year began with the brutal killing of journalist Chandrika Rai (42), his wife Durga (40) and their two teenage children — son Jalaj (19) and daughter Nisha (17) — at their residence in Madhya Pradesh’s Umaria distict in February. Other journalists to die this year were Rajesh Mishra in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, Chaitali Santra in Kolkata and Raihan Naiyum, in Assam.

We list and detail below all the incidents which occurred in the course of the year.

 

1. Journalists killed

05

2. Journalists assaulted, harassed or threatened

38

3. Censorship of content in print medium

08

4. Censorship in the electronic medium

04

5. Censorship of literature, art, education, theatre

08

6. Censorship in film and music industry

14

7. Curbs on internet medium

41

8. Limits on mobile medium

05

9. Arson at media establishments

06

10. Hate speech

02

11. Information or access denied

10

12. Surveillance issues

05

13. Privacy and defamation

02

14. Legislative issues

03

That the death toll of journalists would have been higher, is clear by the brutality of the assaults and threats to journalists: Thongam Rina, associate editor of Arunachal Times, was shot at and critically injured in July; Kamal Shukla in Chhattisgarh was assaulted by a local politician because he wrote a story on illegal tree-felling in Koelibeda, the constituency of the state’s forest minister Vikram Usendi; in Gujarat’s Palampur district, television journalist Devendra Khandelwal was attacked with iron pipes by relatives of MLA Mafatlal Purohit for reporting their involvement in illegal construction.

Sec 66 (a) and internet freedom

The 41 instances of free speech violations related to internet use in the Free Speech Hub’s ‘Free Speech Tracker’ testify to the growing use and abuse of this medium. Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan, two young Facebook users, in Palghar, Maharashtra, in October, were arrested under the draconian Sec 66 (a) of the Information Technology Act, one for posting a critical status comment on the shutdown of the city in the wake of the death of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray and the other for ‘liking’ the post! The nation-wide protest that followed forced a review of the charges against them and a closure report by police. However, they will still have to wait till January 2013 for the formal dropping of charges against them.

Already, the fears over the misuse of the controversial Section (66 A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, were confirmed by other instances: the arrest of two Jadavpur University professors in April 2012 for their e-mails on the cartoons poking fun at that projected West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee;  the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi for sedition, for insulting national honour and for sending offensive messages under Sec 66 (a) of the IT Act in August 2012: two employees of Air-India, Mayank Sharma and KVJ Rao, who were sacked (and reinstated after the protests) after their arrest over a Facebook post, three youth arrested in Kashmir for allegedly anti-Islamic posts and the arrest of industrialist AS Ravi for tweeting about Karti Chidamnaram, son of Union minister for P Chidambaram.

Earlier, in June 2012, the union government ordered the blocking of  more than 250 sites and web pages following the widespread panic and exodus of people from the North East out of Pune, Delhi and Bangalore. Some accounts that disproved the morphed pictures and the propaganda were also blocked.

The Google Transparency Report put India top on the list of countries making demands to take down content.

Censorship in other media

Censorship continued in all arenas, from the literary and cinematic worlds, to art and theatre. Protests of vigilante groups against all manner of expression continued with political parties and social groups taking offence against film songs, dialogues and titles of movies, art exhibitions and theatre performances and even the use of mobile phones by women!

In May, the Human Resources Development Ministry’s attempt to expunge cartoons from NCERT and CBSE textbooks for their alleged anti-Dalit connotations sparked an inconclusive debate on casteism in educational content while the cancellation of Salman Rushdie’s proposed visit to the Jaipur Literary Festival in January only showed the pusillanimity of the state administration.

Covert state surveillance was on the rise, with an increase in government interception and monitoring of emails and telephone conversations, privacy violations and hate speech cases are also under the scanner.

(For further details of the cases and categories please click here)