NWMI condemns insensitive media coverage of gang rape victim in West Bengal #Vaw


June 17, 2013

The Network of Women in Media, India, an independent forum of media professionals across the country, condemns the recent insensitive media representation of the 20-year-old college student at Barasat, West Bengal, who was recently gang-raped and violently murdered. In papers such as The Telegraph, Protidin and several other newspapers/channels, the victim’s name and her family’s have been freely used. More shockingly, Bangla newspaper Aajkaal  printed not only the victim’s name but also her photo on its front page.

The victim, a 20-year-old college girl, was gangraped and murdered on her way home from college on Friday, June 7, 2013 around 2 pm. Aajkaal printed her photo with related news on June 9.

Publishing her name is a clear violation of the Supreme Court’s order that the identity of a rape victim cannot be disclosed. Such disclosure is prohibited under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, as well as the Norms of Journalistic Conduct issued by the Press Council of India (2010). Under the IPC, revealing the identity of a rape victim is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 228 (A to D) of the Indian Penal Code prohibits the disclosure not only of the victim’s name but also of facts that could lead to the identification of the victim, such as the victim’s place of residence, family or friends, university, or work details. This covers victims who are dead, minors and or have “unstable minds”. Even if the name is to be disclosed for welfare or legal reasons, this must be done in writing, only to the appropriate government authority, which does not include the media.

The reasoning for not disclosing the name of a rape victim is that such disclosure would invade the privacy of the victim and may render her open to further harassment and/or indignity. Revealing the identity of a rape victim could also make her (or her family in case she has not survived) vulnerable to pressure to drop the case.

In a context where the incidence of violence against women in West Bengal (and elsewhere) is rising, it is of grave concern that the media is flouting the law of the land as well as norms of ethics laid down by the PCI.

We demand:

1. Immediate pixellation and removal of all identifiers of the rape victim on online portals and the newspapers’ websites.
2. Issuance of a written apology in the newspapers, including their websites.
3. Institution of mechanisms for ensuring increased gender sensitivity while reporting cases of sexual violence. These measures could include, among others: on-the-job training, workshops, and evolving in-house norms for covering gender-based violence.

Sincerely,

Manjira Majumdar, Kolkata
Rajashri Dasgupta, Kolkata
Ranjita Biswas, Kolkata
Anju Munshi, Kolkata
Rina Mukherji, Kolkata
Ammu Joseph, Bangalore
Laxmi Murthy, Bangalore
Gita Aravamudan, Bangalore
Kavin Malar, Chennai
Kavitha Muralidharan, Chennai
Nithila Kanagasabai, Chennai
Jency Samuel, Chennai
R Akhileshwari, Hyderabad
Sandhya Srinivasan, Mumbai
Jyoti Punwani, Mumbai
Geeta Seshu, Mumbai
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai
Kalpana Sharma, Mumbai
Sandhya Taksale, Pune
Linda Chhakchhuak, Shillong

 

#India – Change.org : Campaign Victory’s exposed #Vaw #Socialmedia


Kamayani Bali Mahabal, April 23 2013 , Kracktivism

l 23, 2013, Kractivism

  “Every day, Change.org members win people-powered campaigns for social change”.

Just to give a background to those, who are reading about change.org for first time. It’s a popular and fast-growing website for petitions. In the last  two years, Change.org has grown from 1 million to more than 25  million users, according to the site . It began as a liberal blogging site and then pivoted  to become a hub for petitions, mostly with a liberal or populist bent.

Staring as dot.org domain name to its declaration that “our business is social good” to its certification as a B Corporation, Change.org positioned itself as a progressive force. It promised to run campaigns for “organizations fighting for the public good and the common values we hold dear—fairness, equality, and justice.” That’s no longer its mission.  Something changed last year, The policy changed, ‘ partners’ became ‘advertisers ‘in the name openness, democracy and empowerment . So which means now  they will accept paid promotions from conservative organizations, Corporations , that no bar. I had written   Open letter to CEO Ben Rattray last year  in which I said I will not participate but monitor  change.org.

So here is an expose of monitoring  campaigns of change.org in India

 In India   we have two petitions being  hosted on change.org, one by victims and one by perpetrators ?

You think I am joking please read below

The Incident behind both the  petitions :-

Late evening on 11 April 2013, a group of students from Nalsar Law  University went to the Rain Club located in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, for what was meant to be a farewell party for the graduating seniors.

When they stepped out of the club around 10.30pm to wait for their cab, one of the women students spotted someone taking their pictures with a mobile  phone. She objected and demanded to see the mobile. The mobile turned out to be a dummy, without a card in it. When she further objected and demanded that the phone with which photos were taken be handed over, other media cameramen who were present began to film the altercation.

The students were outraged at this invasion of their privacy and the callous response of media cameramen who continued the harassment by following them to the car and persisting in filming them even as they were vehemently protesting this invasion.

The next morning several Telugu channels began showing the footage. Some websites also put up the footage. TV9, ABN Andhra Jyoti, Sakshi TV, Studio N, NTV, IdlyTV, News 24 .

The incident represents blatant sexual harassment of women in a public place, criminal intimidation of the women with threat of public defamation through media. The anchors of the channels repeatedly referred to the women as  punch drunk, half naked, and nude, when the women students were dressed in strapless evening wear. One of the female anchors referred to their attire  as “creepily offensive short clothes.” They also claimed that they were dancing in the club although the entire story was played out on the street and not inside the club. The media persons were not present inside the club. To make matters worse, CVR News put together several clips of provocative dancing from various sources, implying that the present incident was somehow connected to those. Significantly, while only a couple of channels were present outside the  club and were involved in the incident, the story was generously shared with many other channels and web sites. All the channels replayed the footage  provided by the offending channels without providing any opportunity for the  victims of this coverage to respond or give their side of the story.

The channels also were assuming the tone of moral police, claiming that the students were “leaving Indian traditions in tatters by their dressing and  behaviour”. The anchors of the channels took on the role of moral police  by commenting on the young girls’ clothing, even as the channels’ staple fare  for advertising revenue on their news bulletins comprises song and dance sequences from films and film events featuring skimpily clad women doing vulgar dances to vulgar lyrics. The reporters and anchors held forth on excessive freedom for women and its “devastating” effects on society.

The channels also falsely claimed that the students’ behaviour was condemned by women’s organizations even though they only showed the statements of two little-known local politicians, thereby misleading public opinion.

So here on change org , we have a petition by supporters of NALSAR students  asking for  Stringent actions against media houses participating in voyeuristic reporting ,  addressed to Justice Katju, Chairperson, Press Council of India , Justice N V Ramana, Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Andhra Pradesh , Ms Aruna D K, Minister for Information & Public Relations, Cinematography, AP Film, TV & Theatre Dvlpt Corp, AP  Justice Verma, Chairperson, News and Broadcasting Standards Authority Mr Manish Tiwari, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Union of India

The petition says

The media in our country has engaged in relentless sensationalism, resorting to cheap and lowly tactics to raise TRPs and viewership. This includes airing concocted stories; violating people’s privacy by taking video footage, morphing the images and airing it against completely fabricated and sensationalistic stories; secretly taking videos of people in private parties and clubs and extorting them; and engaging in harassing and abusive conduct. One such incident of unethical, irresponsible, and victimizing behaviour is an incident that occurred on the 121h of April, 2013 to college girls from NALSAR University of Law.The petition has reached 5000 plus signatures

nalsar

And on the other hand, we also have change.org giving platform to the  voyeuristic reporters .with a petition floated by Electronic Media Journalists’ Association of AP , asking to Condemn the action of a group of students who assaulted media persons   addressed to, Manish Tiwari, I&B Minister, Govt of India , Prof. (Dr) Faizan Mustafa ,, Vice-Chancellor, Nalsar , Mrs D K Aruna, Minister of State in AP , Justice Mr M Katju, Chairperson, Press Council of India Justice Katju ,Justice Verma, Chairperson, News and Broadcasting Standards Authority ,Justice N V Ramana, Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Andhra Pradesh ,Hari Prasad, President of Electronic Media Journalists’ Association of AP Please note the targets of both petitions are same .

The petition says

Andhra Pradesh has the maximum number of television news channels not only in India but also in the entire world. The ratings and the importance of these channels show how reliable and responsible the media is in Andhra Pradesh. They never restore to cheap and lowly tactics. There is self-monitoring desk as well as the important organization NBA that keeps monitor on all the channels content.

This petition also has 5000 plus signatures

andhra

Now I want to ask change.org, which petition’s victory will be their victory ?

Wait a minute,

whoever wins or loses,

 it’s a Win- Win situation for change.org.

As a big fans of freedom of speech, they claim their democractic platform. and well whoever wins. Change will be their submitting the petition claiming their VICTORY !! . But I wonder what will they do when they have to take a STAND ? So which petition will they push ? or will; they push both ? and then see pros and cons in context of the political situation and in a closed door meeting then thrash out two teams to work on these two petitions . Call both parties  and weigh the  probabilities and then take a call, keeping both parties in dark on probabilities ?.

So, guys wake up, all those who petition on change.org .This online platform is a for profit  company ,  who through these petitions is  trying legitimize their image as that of  ACTIVISM .They also get  commercial benefits through donations and sponsorships just by providing platform to all you ,under the garb of various human rights issues . VICTORY is for change.org

Change.org’s mission  statement says ‘ to empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see, and we believe the best way to achieve that mission is by combining the values of a non-profit with the flexibility and innovation of a tech startup. ” They call themselves “social enterprise,” using the power of business for social good. “Social Enterprise,” is a term that’s gotten a lot of hold among people who start companies and want to make a difference in the world. But social enterprise as opposed to what? Anti-social enterprise?

Here is where Change.org’s business model comes into play. Change.org sells what are called “sponsored petitions” to its advertisers. Most are nonprofits–right now they include Amnesty International USA, Greenpeace and the Human Rights Campaign — but there’s nothing to prevent companies from sponsoring petitions. Tapping into its audience, Change.org collects names on those petitions and then sells those who opt in to the sponsor, for about $2 per name. Some advertisers get discounts, and other pay more, for example, for people in specific states. Here is a request to Change .org , please, on behalf of companies everywhere Spare us the pieties about how “our business is social good.”

Change.org is a digital media business. Like MTV or Facebook, It creates or aggregates content, the  petitions,  to attract an audience whose attention, in the form of email addresses, it sells to sponsors.

It’s not selling social change. It’s selling you and me.  .

So here is my Appeal to all friends, activists,  celebrating their victories,  and  petitions on change.org,

It’s  time ….

If you’re a member at Change.org take action by unsubscribing from their list. At the very least they can’t profit further off your email.. If you see petitions passed around by friends on Change.org don’t sign them and inform them what’s going on.  It’s important to Explore alternatives

Hopefully the activists in India will very soon have their own activist, accountable, and transparent platform.

Watch out this blog for more :-)

An open letter to Justice Markandey Katju


Apr 3, 2013, Fisrpost

Dear Justice Katju,

We have been learning to live with your preachy and highfalutin’ commentaries for some time now. We also tolerate the preachy and abominable drivel of a suitably unenlightened Asaram Bapu and his PR officer occasionally.

However, allow us to pick your scientific brains on a few issues and questions which, given your professional background and the current sinecure, should be a walk in the Lutyens’ park for you when it comes to addressing these queries. We urge you to  take advantage of the authority conferred by your experience, age and current station in life – and the wisdom that is supposed to emanate thereof – and pitchfork us all out of the cesspool of ignorance that we have been wallowing in thus far.

Here are 7 issues that have been bothering us. None of these have anything to do with malnutrition, Jurassic Park, Congress and secularism, I assure you. We wish to stick to your knitting – the Press and the Criminal Justice System.

First. We find it alarming that a person of your stature – and one who is fearless to boot – advocates such a defeatist attitude on the issue of voting. (Indians vote like cattle)

You have been quoted as  saying, “I won’t vote because my vote is meaningless. Votes are cast in the name of Jats, Muslims, Yadavs or Harijans. Democracy is not meant to be run like this. Why should I waste my time in joining the cattle queue?”

PTI

PTI

Truth be told, we find your argument in support of your stated stance terribly odious, and one that is repugnant in its elegant sophistry. Instead, would empowering the citizens of the country with information so that they vote responsibly, be a better way to deal with this quagmire? For instance, there are about 900 million citizens who own a cellphone – and by sending a text they can access some vital details about the candidates contesting from their respective constituencies. Have you tried it Justice Katju? I urge you to click here to know more about this tool. It just might compel you to vote in future. While I am at it, I might as well ask for a pony for my birthday – could you, Justice Katju, request the Mainstream Media to highlight this simple sms tool when the hustings draw nigh?

I also bring to your attention this report titled “Do informed voters make better choices? Experimental Evidence from Urban India”. For a brief outline, click here. Once you have read it, I am sanguine that instead of advising us not to vote, you will start focusing on how to leverage your current position as Chief of the Press Council to herd us all [the great unwashed, the sheeple] towards much-needed information on candidates before we vote. It could be a game-changer, Justice Katju. Do run it by Rahul Gandhi if you happen to meet him.

Second. You say we have criminals lodged in the dark underbelly of the temples of democracy. Correct. So what have you done about it? Taken any initiatives to stem the rot while you were a part of the Criminal Justice System? Written any detailed papers on how to address this malaise ever? Filed any PILs lately? If not, then have you at least read and fully understood what Vohra Committee, Gupta Committee, Goswami Committe and a few others had to say on this and pushed for the implementation of those recommendations? Have you examined the fineprint of Section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act? There are a couple of PILs in the Delhi HC and the SC related to these issues – could you tell the nation on National TV what these are about, without resorting to a farrago of legalese?

Third. Why does the State deny us our right to punch None of the Above [NOTA] on the EVM? Why are legal luminaries like you not standing up for our rights? I suspect you will now throw form 17(A) under Rule 49(0) at me – which then begs the question: why is there such a stunning silence by all concerned on this important choice that is available to a voter?

Fourth. I now turn my attention to Perjury. How seriously do the constituent elements of the Criminal Justice System take this offence? What happens when elected representatives indulge in perjury – does the Judiciary interact with other constitutional bodies like the EC to suitably punish such violations? For instance, let me draw your attention to the self-declared sworn affidavits submitted by a certain Mr. Anil Kumar, MLA [Himachal Pradesh]. Click here for more details. Do you see what I see, Justice Katju? You are a man of science and scientific thinking, as you tirelessly remind us; could you please use your analytical mind, check the affidavits and let us know if there is, prima facie, a case of perjury and/or misrepresentation of facts. Hint: Immovable Assets.

Fifth. Let us now turn our attention to the plight of the Judiciary. Is it not true that there are only 13.5 Judges for every 1 million citizens in India, against the global norm being approximately 70? Furthermore, did the SC [in 2002] direct all parties concerned to improve this ratio to 50 per million in 5 years? Could you take us through the steps taken by the Judiciary and the Government to achieve this goal? Your sincerity of purpose, and adequacy of aim – that is what this country needs, Justice Katju. Not the aimless psychobabble that you normally indulge in.

Also, while we are on systemic problems that beset the Criminal Justice System, is it not true that various state governments presently stand in contempt of court with respect to the seven binding directions that the apex court spelled out in 2006 on the important issue of Police Reforms?

Sixth. You, who are the PCI chairperson, have expressed some trenchant views in the past on how the media revels in the trivial and the silly. No disagreements there. There is also the issue of paid news and soap operas like Radiagate.  However, carping is for us citizens – on the other hand powerful people like you who are utterly non-idiotic, should be doing something about it. Hence I draw your attention to the Leveson Inquiry and humbly ask you if there is any such panel that has been instituted in India to examine the issue holistically? Who are the panel members? By when can the nation expect a set of guidelines and recommendations – as against the usual gobbledygook and poppycock – on this critical issue?

Seventh. As I understand, Prisons and reformation form the final link of the Criminal Justice System. While we have taken note of your bleeding heart, on the issue of Sanjay Dutt’s pardon [by the way, we did notice that your graceful gesture towards Zaibunissa Kazi was a reaction to the brouhaha AFTER the stuff hit the fan], could you share with us some possible solutions that can be deployed to ameliorate the plight of the under-trials in Indian jails? During your tenure as a HC and SC Judge, did you pursue this matter with anyone of any importance? What came out of those discussions? What is the total capacity of all the prisons in India and how many people are actually lodged in those jails? Are the under-trials housed with the general population of convicts, Justice Katju?

You usually have an opinion on almost all issues; yet I notice that you have maintained a studied silence on the matters highlighted above. Why is that Justice Katju? Has sticking to one’s knitting gone completely out of fashion?

On a lighter note, we are quite saddened by the fact that you have not watched any movie for over 40 years. However, I strongly recommend that you take some time out to watch one particular movie; in fact, you ought to invite Dr. Subramanian Swamy and the two of you could watch it together. The lead actor is of Italian descent – as was Al Capone. These Italians, I tell ya!

The Untouchables – that’s the name of the movie. May we Flipkart you a copy?

shining.path.notperu@gmail.com

Justice Katju bats for sacked DRDO scientist


New Delhi, March 7, 2013

Special Correspondent, The Hindu

Former employee of DRDO Aijaz Ahmed Mirza who was arrested on terror charges addressing a media conference in Bangalore. File photo

The Hindu Photo Library Former employee of DRDO Aijaz Ahmed Mirza who was arrested on terror charges addressing a media conference in Bangalore. File photo

The PCI chief wrote to Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Karnataka Chief Minister Jagdish Shettar, regarding the sacked DRDO scientist who was released as NIA failed to file chargesheet against him

Press Council of India Chairperson Markandey Katju has asked Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to look into the case of Aijaz Ahmed Mirza, who was sacked as DRDO scientist after having been implicated in a bomb blast case.

In his letter to them, Justice Katju said media reports indicated that no evidence had been found against Mr. Mirza by the National Investigation Agency, which also refused to file a charge sheet against him.

If no evidence is found, “he should be reinstated forthwith in the post he was holding before he was sacked.”

Justice Katju also asked that adequate compensation be paid, and an open apology be tendered by the Central/State government to Mr. Mirza for the ‘torture and indignities in jail’ he suffered.

The letter comes a day after Justice Katju’s appeal to the media to exercise restraint in their coverage of blasts, and to refrain from falsely implicating Muslims even before investigations are complete.

 

Even the chairman has the freedom of speech- #JusticeKatju


MARKANDEY KATJU, The Hindu

Outspoken has no connection with my being associated with the Press Council of India

“Bol ki lab azaad hain terey

Bol zubaan ab tak teri hai”

(Speak out for your lips are free

Speak out for your tongue is still yours”)

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

I have been criticised by some politicians, lawyers and others for being outspoken on some issues unrelated to the press while being the Chairman of The Press Council of India (PCI). As a result, it is time now for my response.

The main attack on me is that since the PCI discharges quasi-judicial functions, its Chairman should not speak on non-media issues.

First of all, let me say that if a matter comes up before the PCI when it is exercising quasi-judicial functions involving an issue or a person about which or whom I have expressed my view, I will immediately recuse myself from the deliberations and decision on it. In quasi-judicial matters I do not make decisions on my own. Rather, it is the PCI which, by majority vote, makes decisions. There are 28 members of the PCI apart from the Chairman. If I recuse myself then the other members will deal with the matter as they deem fit. What then is all the hullabaloo about?

It is then said that a judge should not comment on public issues except when a case comes before him. I reply by saying that I am not a judge but a retired judge. It may be pointed out that the post and functions of the Chairman of the PCI are very different from that of a judge.

First, while a judge has only judicial functions (except the power given to High Courts under Article 235 of the Constitution of administrative control over the subordinate judiciary), the Press Council not only performs quasi-judicial functions under Section 14 of the PCI Act of adjudicating complaints by or against the press, but also preserves the freedom of the press and maintains high standards of journalism, vide Section 13. Second, the High Court and Supreme Court have powers which the PCI does not have. Example, the power to issue writs; punish for contempt of court; quash orders of administrative authorities; issue directions in a PIL, etc. There are several other differences between judges and the Chairman of the PCI. How then can the two posts be treated as equal?

I have repeatedly said that I am not only Chairman of the PCI but also a citizen of India. The PCI Act contains no provision prohibiting me from speaking on non-media issues (though, as I have already said, if a matter comes in quasi judicial proceedings of the PCI on which I have expressed my view I will recuse myself from the deliberations and decision). Hence, I will continue speaking on such issues, particularly when it is, in my opinion, a matter of grave importance for the nation, no matter what some people might say. I have a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution (which gives the freedom of speech to all citizens) to speak on such matters even while remaining the Chairman of the PCI.

A charge is made against me that I am a government servant and a government appointee and am therefore doing the bidding of the government. To this my reply is as follows: first, the Chairman of the PCI is not appointed by the government but selected under s.5(2) of the PCI Act by a selection committee comprising: 1. the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (the Vice-President of India) 2. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha, and 3. a representative of the PCI (who is not appointed by the government but chosen democratically by the members of the PCI). It was this body which unanimously selected me. Second, I am not a government servant but an independent statutory authority. It is true that s.7(1) describes me as an “officer,” but the word “officer” does not necessarily mean a government servant. One word can have several meanings, and it depends on the context in which the word has been used. The word “officer” in s.7(1) means a person holding an office. That the Chairman of the PCI is not a government employee is borne out by several features: 1. An employee is usually under the supervision and control of a superior, but the Chairman of the PCI has no superior 2. Employees have ACRs (annual confidential reports) but there is no ACR of the Chairman 3. An employee can be suspended and (if he is on a transferable job) transferred, but the Chairman can neither be suspended nor transferred 4. The Government Servants’ Conduct Rules do not apply to the Chairman of the PCI.

No doubt the salary of the Chairman is paid by the government (the appointment letter states that the Chairman will get the same salary, benefits and amenities as a sitting Supreme Court Judge), but then salaries of High Court and Supreme Court judges are also paid by the government. Does that make such judges government employees?

To those who said that I have only criticised non-Congress governments I have already given my answer in various TV discussions that I have frequently criticised Congress governments too, examples being of Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. I accuse such persons of twisting facts.

I would not have even bothered to give this explanation but for the misleading comments made by some persons which could have misguided the public.

(Justice Markandey Katju is Chairman, Press Council of India.)

Should malnourished children of Gujarat eat Modi’s roads and factories? #JusticeKatju


(Left) Markandey Katju and Narendra Modi(Left) Markandey Katju and Narendra Modi
(Left) PCI Chairman Markandey Katju and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi
 Two weeks after stirring controversy over his remarks

Two weeks into controversy over his remarks in his blog against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Press Council of India (PCI) chairman, Justice (retired) Markandey Katju, has targeted the BJP heavyweight once again.
In his latest attack on Modi, Katju has written in a Pakistani newspaper, criticising the Gujarat chief minister, holding him responsible for the 2002 riots in the state.

The BJP hit out at the former Supreme Court judge over his latest article “Should malnourished children of Gujarat eat roads, electricity and factories, which Modi has created?”

Gujarat BJP leader Jay Narayan Vyas said, “I am not surprised with this. Justice Katju is a retired justice. They (people in Pakistan) would try to establish a relation similar to Nazism. It proves that it is an irresponsible statement. There are some reasonable restrictions also. The enemy country uses it for making a case at international level.”

“We can’t expect them to leave such an opportunity. They have related the Nazi massacre with the Gujarat case. Justice Katju should follow the reasonable restrictions. The government has acquired a soft status on the cross-border terrorism. The UPA government is divided in many segments. It think the government has failed in this aspect also like in economic aspect,” Vyas said holding the UPA government responsible for the PCI chief’s attack on Modi.

BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said, “What Justice Katju writes is not taken seriously by anyone. But if someone writes about internal Indian politics in Pakistan, then an issue rises that if a judge can get involved in internal politics. He mentioned that he wrote so as an independent citizen. If Katjuji wants to do politics, then he should do politics.”

“Everybody has a freedom to write and express. He says he is writing in his capacity as a citizen… He is an active member of ‘hate Modi campaign’. He is doing politics. He cannot separate his two roles when he is already heading a constitutional body,” he said.

Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, however, defended the PCI chief and the UPA government in the latest controversy.

“Justice Katju is a retired officer. In our nation, everyone has a right to put forth his/her views. Where does it get published, we cannot have a control over that,” the minister said.

 

#India – When a rape is not a rape #sexualviolence #Vaw #AFSPA


Freny Manecksha | February 16, 2013, Times Crest

 

In 2004 an iconic image, hailed as a feminist statement, depicted a dozen Manipuri women who had stripped in front of the headquarters of Assam Rifles, holding banners saying “Indian army rape us.” But as Chitra Ahanthem, editor of Imphal Free Press explains, “These women actually belong to a very patriarchal society. What drove them to such extreme forms of protest? They told me it was an expression of the impotent rage they felt at the way security troops could commit sexual crimes with such impunity.”

The protest occurred after the body of 34-year-old Manorama Thingjam was found near Imphal on July 11, 2004. Manorama was earlier picked up from her home by 17 Assam Rifles on suspicion of being a militant. “The protesting women told me no woman could remain unmoved after seeing what the troops had done to Manorama. Her body bore appalling wounds _ scratch marks, deep gashes on her thighs and her genitals peppered with gunshot wounds,” says Ahanthem.

More than eight years later Manorama and women of Manipur are still denied justice. The army, in 2011, stalled the Manipur government’s probe and call for action by challenging the Guwahati High court decision in the Supreme Court through a Special Leave Petition saying no sanction had been given to the Manipur government to carry out a probe. Manipur comes under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Sections 6 provides that the state government cannot prosecute law enforcement agencies without sanctions from the federal Home Ministry.

Such high-profile cases of impunity and “the belief that AFSPA because of its overarching powers to security troops virtually provides legal sanction to rape and sexual assault” led the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) to make suggestions to the Verma Commission to bring security troops under the criminal justice system. The commission did so but the recent ordinance on sexual violence is totally silent on this issue. (Ironically in 1997, a bench headed by Justice Verma had upheld the constitutionality of AFSPA).

PUDR observes how powers of search and seizure under AFSPA work as “permissions to enter households and harass, protest and rape women with impunity.”

A most heinous example of such a “permission” is the Kunan-Poshpura mass rapes of 1991 in Kashmir. Men were made to assemble in the fields at night whilst some 23 women of the village, aged between 13-80 years, said they were raped by troops of the Fourth Rajputana Rifles between the night of February 23-24. No police investigations were carried out. A Press Council of India committee headed by B G Verghese, claimed the complaints were fabricated. But in October 2011, the State Human Rights Commission, (SHRC) acknowledging the sexual assaults asked the state to start a fresh probe.

The army which resists all attempts to lift AFSPA, says it has its own justice delivery systems and there is a strong and vigilant court martial process. But as legal activist Vrinda Grover observes, “Whilst they do deliver some sentences it is not commensurate with justice. Also there is no transparency since one has no access to court martial proceedings and no information is shared either with the public or even the victims.” In several cases Right to Information applications are refused under exemptions.

Increasingly, rights activists are now arguing that it is not merely draconian legislation but militarisation and the guise of a security-centric approach that creates “institutional impunity at political, judicial and moral levels.”  A report Alleged Perpetrators: Stories of Impunity in Jammu & Kashmir by the International People’s Tribunal for human Rights and Justice in Indian Administered Kashmir and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons states that in the “name of countering militant violence the Indian state authorises armed forces to carry out operations with or without adherence to law. Significantly in a majority of cases crimes are not noted or investigated at all.”

A team member explains that in Jammu and Kashmir the very act of filing an FIR against the forces becomes a huge struggle.

One of the victims of Kunan-Poshpora  in her testimony to another report to the Independent People’s Tribunal on Human Rights Violations in Kashmir speaks of the daunting challenge in  filing FIRS because of fear and reprisal by concerned troops. She adds that although an FIR was lodged (RI/1387/83) at Trehgam police station on March 2, 1991 nothing came of it.

Alleged Perpetrators documents the lengthy and almost futile efforts of a particular case of torture and sexual assault in Sipan, Anantnag district. In response to an RTI query the Jammu & Kashmir government in 2009 said sanction for prosecution had been sought from the ministry of defence in 2006 but was still awaited. The ministry of defence claimed sanction had not been received. What is also significant is that it took 12 years for the J&K police to investigate and process the case for prosecution.

An even more alarming feature is that the culture of impunity has permeated to the police who do not come under AFSPA.  One notable case in Alleged Perpetrators pertains to rape and torture of  a 16-year-old girl from Zachaldara,Kupwara district. She says she was picked up from school and taken to a police station for interrogation. Lady constables tortured her and later DSP Altaf Ahmad Khan kicked her in the abdomen and then raped her. So horrific were the injuries that she was in hospital for 50 days. Her ruptured uterus was removed. Although she filed an application no FIR was registered. She then approached the SHRC who have recommended an inquiry three years after receiving the complaint. No investigations appear to have taken place.  Meanwhile the police officer has been promoted and awarded the President’s Police award for gallantry.

Significantly this trend of rewarding policemen who have charges of sexual violence against them have echoes in Chhatisgarh, where there is militarisation but no AFSPA. SRP Kalluri who was awarded a gallantry medal this January has been named by Ledhabai, the wife of a slain Maoist, as an accused for custodial rape and gangrape in a case filed in the Chhatisgarh High Court.

Last year there was outrage over adivasi school teacher Soni Sori’s letter to her lawyer stating that she was sexually assaulted and tortured by police officer Ankit Garg whilst in jail. Garg was given a gallantry award despite the complaints and Sori emerged as a global rallying figure for her vehement stand against atrocities perpetrated on adivasi women.  Sori who has been jailed by Dantewada police on various counts won a crucial victory this week as she was acquitted for being a key accused in an incident of opening firing and burning Essar vehicles.

Commenting on this trend of rewarding tainted police officers Vrinda Grover says that by such rewards the state is assuring them that they will be safeguarded. It is telling women, she says, that their bodies are fodder for interests of national security.

Mr. Iftikhar Gilani’s complaint to Justice Katju


 

To

Justice Markandey Katju
Hon’ble Chairman
Press Council of India
New Delhi

At 10:30 a.m on February 9 (Saturday) I was just putting my bag in my car to leave for office, I saw two persons in the compound who enquired about the house of Geelani saab. I asked them which Geelani saab are you searching for, making out they could be from some courier agency to deliver some mail for me? They replied that they are searching for a Kashmiri leader, who lives somewhere in the colony. I told them he lives in the opposite block and tried to give them directions. One of them requested, if I can accompany them.
So I did. On the way, they told me they are from Delhi Special Cell. When we reached at JD18 E block of Khirki Ext. I saw a crowd of plain clothesmen in the gulley. I just pointed out to first floor and told them there lives Geelani saab, you are searching for. As I started to withdraw, they grabbed my hand and said they need few minutes to talk to me. And virtually dragged me to first floor flat, taking away my purse, identity card, keys etc. They could not trace my phone till then, though they were insisting to hand over phone to them. Upon reaching the flat, I saw many more people inside. As they got busy with conversation to some other person, I managed to go to bathroom and sent SMS to my office and some friends. When I was back, they noticed the phone and took it away.
After 15 minutes, I saw my wife also arriving at this house, escorted by two male plain cloth police wala.. My children were alone at my house. I repeatedly asked them to explain reasons behind my detention. All the time, they were very rude, threatening and warning me of dire consequences. I also pleaded with them, even if they want to detain me, why at the house of Syed Ali Geelani and not at my own home or a police station? And why had they kept children away from us?
After five hours, I heard many voices from outside. One officer type person came and shouted that I am free and can leave this house. In the by-lane I saw my office people including bureau chief Saikat Dutta and some other friends including, Aurangzeb Naqashbadni of Hindustan Times. They had used every available contact in home ministry and Delhi police to make them see reason. When I reached my home, some 7-8 strangers were occupying drawing room and living room and they had locked up my children in a bed room that does not have even bathroom facility.
When I reached there with friend, the strangers started leaving one by one. Saying that my children were terrified would be an understatement. They recalled how these people in our absence banged the door and asked them to confine themselves in bed room. They were also shouting at neighbours why they allow person like me to live there.
I have no issue with what government wanted to do to maintain law and order in Delhi or elsewhere. Repeatedly in public domains, I have affirmed that I have nothing to do with the politics of my father-in-law Syed Ali Geelani.
I owe my living to journalism for over past two decades in Delhi. I feel totally distraught with the behaviour of security agencies, particularly special cell of Delhi police. I feel so scared. I try my best to raise my children in an atmosphere of peace and compassion. I have no idea, what should I do to prove myself to be a peace loving and a law abiding citizen.
As Frederick Douglass says, the life of the nation is secure only when the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous. I may add, the subjugation, harassment, and trampling on rights only makes the nation weak and insecure in the long run, though it may address to the rhetorical class and accrue short term gains.

I have a bad experience of the same Special Cell of Delhi Police putting me in Tihar Jails in 2002 on false charges and forging documents of the Defence Ministry to convince the court that I am a Pakistani agent supplying sensitive information to its High Commission. The officials who then raided my house even cooked up my bank accounts to claim I was sending Hawala money to Kashmiri terrorists. Many fictitious stories were also planted by them in media tarnishing my reputation. The cooked-up charges under the Official Secrets Act were withdrawn and I was honourably acquitted by the court, but only after eight months of harrowing custody. At the time of my then arrest in 2002, the Intelligence Bureau also made the Income Tax Department fabricate tax charges against me. I am continuously harassed by the Income Tax Department with recovery notices from time to time despite I moving the Delhi High Court to end my harassment as it keeps on adding penalty and fine for not paying dues that now total up to over Rs 60 lakhs that I just cannot afford to pay with my present salary. I am bringing this fact to your knowledge, just to draw your attention to various ways I am continuously hounded and harassed.

With thanks,

 

Iftikhar Gilani

10 February 2013

 

To

The Home Secretary,

Government of India.

New Delhi

 

Dear Sir,

 

I am forwarding to you an email I have received from Mr. Iftikhar Gilani, Asst. Editor DNA, who is a Government of India accredited journalist and former Vice President of the Press Association.

I have carefully perused the email he has sent me and I have also read the news item in the front page of today’s The Hindu newspaper. They reveal great high handedness and outrageous behaviour by the Delhi policemen concerned in harrassing and tormenting Mr. Gilani and his family, including his small children. These were the undemocratic and abhorrent methods of the Gestapo during Nazi rule.

If these allegations are correct, the concerned police officers, who committed these high-handed illegal acts, as well as those higher ups who were instrumental in ordering these shameful and odious acts are prime facie guilty of serious crimes under sections 341/342, as well as other provisions of the Indian Penal Code and are also guilty of gross and blatant abuse of their powers.

 

Hence, if the allegations in the email of Mr Gilani are correct, I call upon you to do the following acts within 48 hours :

 

(i) immediately charge sheet and place under suspension all police officers responsible for these high handed and illegal acts including those higher ups who gave the orders for them

 

(ii) immediately institute criminal proceedings against such officers under the relevant provisions of IPC and other statutes.

 

(iii) immediately sanction adequate and suitable compensation to Mr Gilani and his family and convey an apology to him

 

(iv) I am informed that Mr. Gilani is still being harassed and surveillance is being done on him and his family. This is a clear violation of the decision of the Supreme Court in Kharak Singh Vs State of UP and other  AIR 1963 S.C.1295,1964 SCR (1) 332, as well as violation of the right to privacy , which has been held to be part of Art 21 of the Constitution of India. Police surveillance seriously encroaches upon privacy of the petitioner and his fundamental rights under Art 21 vide 1999 (24) All Cr. R. 815 (817): 1999 (11).

I may mention that in the Nuremburg Trials held in after the Second World War the Nazi War Criminals took the plea that orders are orders, and that they were only obeying the orders of their superior Hitler. This plea was rejected by the International Tribunal which held that those orders were illegal orders and hence should have been disobeyed. Consequently many of the accused were hanged.

Hence all policemen in India are hereby warned that they should not carry out illegal orders of their superiors otherwise they will be charged for serious crimes, and if found guilty, severely punished.

Justice Markandey Katju

Chairman, Press Council of India

#India -No arrests yet in, Journalist Tongam Rina case #Vaw #Northeast #womenrights


Seven months after she was shot, journalist Tongam Rina is still waiting for the culprits to be nabbed. In an exclusive interview with TERESA REHMAN, she says this apathy emboldens miscreants.
Posted/Updated Friday, Jan 18 16:39:26, 2013

It was in July 2012 that the Itanagar-based Associate Editor with The Arunachal Timeswas shot at while entering her office. Despite public protests and support from across India, all she gets are empty assurances. An indifferent state administration has only added insult to the injuries she sustained.

It’s been six months since you wereshot at. What kind of response have you received from the authorities so far? Was there any action from the police?

 

All I have received is assurance after assurance. Nothing else. The police is not bothered and the government seem to think its job is finished with handing out Rs 2.50 lakh and arranging a chopper ride for me and two family members from Itanagar to Guwahati.

Why do you think the authorities have not been able to nab the culprits in spite of CCTV?

Unfortunately, there is no CCTV footage. But authorities have not been able to nab the culprits because they are not serious.

 

It must have been a difficult time for you and your family. What kind of circumstances have you been through?

It has been a very difficult time for us. Everything has come to a halt after the attempt on my life. I am yet to work from office as I still find it difficult to sit up for long hours. I have not written anything in the last six months, which is incredibly sad.  I and my family are yet to come out of shock. My mother refuses to let me get back to work while I and my partner discuss physiotherapy, counselling and visits to doctors instead of holidays!  But we have found enormous courage because of the support we received from the people of my state and also media fraternity from across the country. People have gone out of their way to support us. They have prayed for us. We are indebted. I wish police was more responsible and willing and government took note of this.

Do you have any idea about the motive of your attackers since your office was attacked on a previous occasion as well? Has it got something to do with the kind of stories your newspaper was doing?

Our office has been targeted five times in the last one year. That’s no joke. It’s very easy to figure out that we have been attacked because of the stories we do and because of the stand we take. These attacks are also a sign that there is no law and order. The criminals know that they can get away with anything in Arunachal, even murder. These repeated events clearly show what kind of policing, governance and judiciary we have in Arunachal Pradesh.

What kind of injuries did you suffer? What is the present state of your health? How has it affected your life, personally as well as professionally?

The bullet missed the vital organs by a few milimetres but it tore open a portion of my stomach. The doctors removed the bullet and every time I see a doctor, they always tell me that I am very lucky as the attack could have been fatal. My life has been turned upside down, inside out. I and my partner are trying to rebuild our lives. It’s been slow and painful. And it’s been extremely difficult on my parents and my partner as I am prone to angry outbursts after the attack. We are seeking help for it.

Could you find any kind of remedy for the psychological trauma you underwent? 

There is no quick remedy. It’s a slow process and we are still dealing with it.

Are you confident enough to walk into your office now?

Yes. I am not scared and they can’t win. They are cowards. Imagine shooting someone from behind.

How supportive has the local press fraternity been?

The local press has been very supportive. They are doing everything possible. They took out a silent protest rally on January 15 to question why it was taking so long to nab the culprit.

Did anyone approach the Press Council of India and other such bodies at the national and global level?

I am not sure about the Press Council of India. I got a letter informing me that they were planning a visit to Itanagar regarding my case. But I got no further information. Perhaps they are busy. The Committee for Protection of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, South Asia Women in Media have been extremely supportive. I am in regular touch with them.

What do you have to say about the safety of journalists in Arunachal Pradesh? How difficult is it to work in the frontier state?

There is no safety for journalists as well as common citizens in Arunachal since there is zero conviction rate. As I said, criminals get away with everything. There is a criminal-politician-police nexus in the state. And their favourite targets are journalists, as some of us dare report the truth. Even owners of media houses are not doing enough. Journalists work at their own risk as media houses have not done enough to protect their journalists and they pay abysmally.

Do you still hope for some justice at the end of the day?

At the rate things are going, I see no hope. But let’s hope for the best. Hopefully, my grandmother will know who harmed her favourite child before she dies.

 

Do you think some kind of a systematic campaign for justice can be carried out?

Right now I have no idea but yes, I look for support from everywhere. The state police and the government in Arunachal need to know that their long vacation is over and they have to work. They have to give an honest answer to my family and fellow journalists and people who care.

 

Teresa Rehman is the Editor of The Thumb Print (www.thethumbprintmag.com)

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Paid news in Gujarat Elections


PRESS NOTE
December 17, 2012
            I have been informed today by Shri Rajeev Ranjan Nag, Member, Press Council of India and Convener of the team I appointed for looking into complaints of paid news and violation of Press freedom in the Gujarat election, that large scale practice of paid news in the recent Gujarat elections has come to the notice of the fact finding team.
            The full report about this is still being prepared and shall be submitted to me shortly, but I am informed that not only the print media but even the visual media (TV Channels) indulged in large scale practice of paid news in the Gujarat elections.
            This is indeed shocking and very disturbing as it is a heavy blow to democracy in the country. Certain politicians seem to be making a mockery of the purity of elections, and in their desire to get elected are prepared to go to any extent.
            After I receive the full report of the fact finding team I shall inform the Election Commission of India about it (as well as the general public and concerned authorities)  and request that elections of candidates who indulged in paid news and violation of press freedom in the recent election should be cancelled, as was done in the case of an elected candidate in the recent U.P Legislative Assembly Elections.
            This also vindicates my plea for effective media regulation and punitive powers in the proposed Media Council for taking action against the delinquent media. ‘Self regulation’ has proved to be ineffective, and the recent Gujarat elections is the latest example of the malaise in a large section of the media, and it is not just an aberration.
                                                                                                (Justice Markandey Katju)
                                                                                                Chairman, Press Council of India