PRESS RELEASE- Statement on Harassment and Sensational Misleading reporting of TV channels #Vaw


STATEMENT ON HARASSMENT AND SENSATIONAL, MISLEADING REPORTING BY TV CHANNELS

By the Network of Women in Media, India

19 April 2013
Late evening on 12 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 and the following links which were still active till 14th April 2013 carried the footage:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2w9ZkMy0VqU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBHNNQW4kck

http://www.istream.com/news/watch/343985/Drunk-girls%E2%80%93drama-on-streets-of\
-Hyderabad

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WcZh0vlqDM

A detailed report of the incident is already on the media watch website, The Hoot (www.thehoot.org):
http://www.thehoot.org/web/TV-voyeurism-touches-new-low/6717-1-1-5-true.html

The online petition drafted by the victims is available here:

http://www.change.org/petitions/victimization-harassment-and-defamation-by-local\
-news-media

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.

This is a clear case of media grossly interfering in the privacy of individuals by photographing/filming people without their permission in a public place. When the students objected to the intrusion of their privacy, the media aggressively continued to shoot them and followed them with provocative words.

This appears to be in violation of items 4, 6, 1, and 2 of the News Broadcasters’ Association’s Code of Ethics for programming and also appears to be in violation of the programming code prescribed under the Cable Networks Regulation Act.

As media professionals who believe the news media have a responsibility to conduct themselves in accordance with the laws of the land and the ethics and standards of the profession, we are appalled at this misbehaviour by certain television channels.

We request you to call for the entire footage in possession of the channels and examine it as the voices of the cameramen and other men present seem to have been removed.

We request you to strongly censure the channels and websites for manufacturing a misleading and defamatory story by intruding into the privacy of the girls and publicly harassing and intimidating them.

We also request you to ensure that the channels involved in this misdemeanour are fined, made to apologize to the victims, and to carry the apology on channels (including their websites, if any) as prominently and as frequently as the coverage given to the incident.

We firmly believe that, without exemplary punishment, such television channels will continue their vigilante activities, which routinely target women and other vulnerable groups in society.

Looking forward to an early and appropriate response from you,

Signed, on behalf of the Network of Women in Media, India (www.nwmindia.org), by:

 

Pushpa Achanta, Bangalore
Gita Aravamudan, Bangalore
Neela Badami, Bangalore
Anita Cheria, Bangalore

Aditi De, Bangalore

Ammu Joseph, Bangalore
Revathi Siva Kumar, Bangalore
Laxmi Murthy, Bangalore

Susheela Nair, Bangalore

Kavitha Muralidharan, Chennai

Kavin Malar, Chennai

Lakshmy Venkiteswaran, Chennai
R. Akhileshwari, Hyderabad

Lalita Iyer, Hyderabad

Manjari Kadiyala, Hyderabad
Satyavati Kondaveeti, Hyderabad
Padmaja Shaw, Hyderabad
Ranjita Biswas, Kolkata
Rajashri Dasgupta, Kolkata
Manjira Majumdar, Kolkata
Linda Chhakchhuak, Mizoram
Rupa Chinai, Mumbai
Ramlath Kavil, Mumbai
Sameera Khan, Mumbai

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai

Meena Menon, Mumbai
Jyoti Punwani, Mumbai
Geeta Seshu, Mumbai
Kalpana Sharma, Mumbai

Sandhya Srinivasan, Mumbai
Sandhya Taksale, Pune

 

www.nwmindia.org

editors@nwmindia.org

A forum for women in media professions to share information and resources, exchange ideas, promote media awareness and ethics, and work for gender equality and justice within the media and society.

 

Chilling Effect:the IIPM block #paidmedia


So why did this issue not generate more discussion in the print media? Could it be linked to the fact that IIPM is a generous advertiser, asks KALPANA SHARMA. Pix: An IIPM ad, the hoot.org 
Posted/Updated Saturday, Mar 02 17:12:39, 2013
SECOND TAKE
Kalpana Sharma
Will the print media learn something from the recent blocking of over 70 URLs after a Gwalior court responded to a case filed by the Dean of the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), Arindam Chaudhuri? The latter had asked that these URLs be blocked as they contained defamatory material about his institute. Without assessing whether indeed this was true, the court issued an ex parteorder to block the specific URLs. Oddly, one of them was the University Grants Commission website that stated that as IIPM was not recognised, it could not grant degrees. Within a day of the court ruing on February 14, CERT-In (Computer Emergency Response Team – India) and the Department of Telecommunications proceeded to block these URLs. Only after the uproar this caused did the government consider filing an appeal against the order. On February 28, the same court has now allowed the block on these URLs to be lifted until the next hearing on March 14.
The issue here is not just about the way courts are responding to demands from individuals or even the government to block content on the Internet on the basis of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act. It is also not just about freedom of expression, although that is a central concern. The Gwalior court’s action, coming on top of similar actions by courts in different parts of the country, raises issues that also relate to the print media and not just to content on the Internet.
Yet, somehow, in the limited discussion that has appeared in print media on this issue, this aspect has not been raised. One would have expected that an issue like this would engage print media as many of the sites blocked were of publications that appear in print. These include The Caravan magazine that was the first to be sued by Chaudhuri when its correspondent, Siddharth Deb, wrote a detailed investigative cover story on the IIPM in 2011. The magazine was slapped a suit not in Delhi, where it is published, but in distant Silchar in Assam. (The Caravan managed, by appealing to the Supreme Court, to get the case shifted to Delhi.)
Although the magazine removed the article from its website, given the nature of the Internet, it remains available to this day on dozens of other sites. Yet, Chaudhuri’s court case had an impact because the publishers of Siddharth Deb’s book, “The Beautiful and the Damned”, which had a chapter on IIPM based on his article in The Caravan, were compelled to remove the chapter from the Indian edition of the book. It continues to be available in editions published outside this country.
What this latest controversy over blocking content on the Internet underlines is that the print media cannot remain indifferent or complacent to these developments. The lack of critical debate and writing in print media, barring a few exceptions such as The Hindu, suggests that the penny has not yet dropped. As much of print media, including newspapers and magazines, have a substantial and a growing web presence, this means that similar action could be initiated against their websites without affording them a chance to stall court orders, or even to argue out their case. In every instance so far, courts have given ex parte orders and only reversed them later.
N. S. Nappinai, a lawyer who has specialized in cyber crime, spoke recently at a meeting of the Network of Women in Media, India in Mumbai on this issue. Amongst other issues, she pointed out that there was an anomaly between the defamation law as it applied to content in the print media and Section 66A of the IT Act, which related to the same content on the Internet. While the former is a non-cognizable offence, the latter is cognizable. There are several other anomalies that would justify a discussion in the media.
What was the legal position in this particular case? The web-based First Post carried several articles including a useful one by Danish Raza that went into the legal aspects of the Gwalior court’s interim ruling. It explained how courts can give ex parte rulings but also why this ought to be done only in exceptional circumstances. I quote one paragraph to give an indication of the issues it raised:
“Commenting on court ordered blocks, Parminder Jeet Singh, executive director of IT for change, a Bangalore based organisation which works on internet governance issues, says, ‘When there is clear imminent danger or threat to the society, as in case of possible rioting, immediate removal of content without notifying and hearing the other party is understandable. But defamatory content does not fall in this category. Decisions on such largely civil matters should be taken with due deep consideration, after listening to all parties. And by far the considerations of free speech should have overwhelming weight in making decisions.’ Singh adds that ‘Even if it is considered necessary to remove any content, a fully transparent process has to be followed’.”
So why did this issue not generate more discussion in the print media? Could it be linked in some way to the fact that until recently, IIPM had been a generous advertiser in a number of major newspapers, taking out full-page ads? Perhaps there is no connection but it does seem odd that such an important issue, with repercussions for content in print, did not invite more comment in the print media.
The IIPM case actually sets out a blueprint for what anyone, wanting to curb criticism, can do. If courts can so easily and speedily respond, any individual, institution or even the government can use the law to stop critical writing. As in the IIPM case, the individual concerned does not have to file the case directly. They can put up another person to do this and merely become the second party to the case. Although so far, the defamation law has not been used so widely as to curb freedom of expression in the print media, the IT Act might prove more effective.
This then is the danger that must engage people in the print media.

Handbook for Bloggers and cyber- dissidents #mustshare


via @ConQueso1

Bloggers cause anxiety. Governments are wary of these men and women, who are posting news, without being professional journalists. Worse, bloggers sometimes raise sensitive issues which the media, now known as “traditional”, do not dare cover. Blogs have in some countries become a source of news in their own right.

Nearly 120,000 blogs are created every day. Certainly the blogosphere is not just adorned by gems of courage and truth. It is also often the source of confusion and dis-information and not all bloggers have the souls of reporters. That is why this handbook contains advice on creating and updating a blog, with no other ambition than that of free expression. For others it will be a struggle to draw attention to a particular issue. The first concern therefore is to make a publication visible (see the Jotman article). This hand-book also suggests ploys to get your blog well referenced online (see the Olivier Andrieu article) as well as “editorial” recommendations (Get your blog to stand out, by Mark Glazer).

Let’s acknowledge that blogs are a fantastic tool for freedom of expression. They have unloosed the tongues of ordinary citizens. People who were until now only consumers of news have become players in a new form of journalism, a “grassroots” journalism, as expressed by Dan Gillmor (Grassroots journalism — see the chapter What ethics should bloggers have?), that is “by the people for the people”. Blogs are more or less controllable for those who want to keep them under surveillance. Governments that are most up to do date with new technology use the most sophisticated filtering or blocking techniques, preventing them from appearing on the Web at all. But bloggers don’t just sit back and let it happen. The essential question becomes how to blog in complete safety. With a normal IP address, a blogger can be tracked down and arrested. Anonymity allows them to keep their freedom (See “How to blog anonymously).

In countries where censorship holds sway, blogs are sometimes the only source of news. During the events in Burma in the autumn of 2007, pitting monks and the people against the military junta, bloggers were the main source of news for foreign journalists. Their video footage made it possible to gauge the scale of the protests and what demonstrators’ demands were. For more than two months, marches were held in the streets, then a massive crackdown was launched against opponents that only the Burmese were able to show, so hard did it become for the few foreign journalists who managed to enter the country to get back out with their footage. And bloggers could not get the footage out without getting round online censorship imposed by the government.

This handbook seeks to help every blogger to fill in the “black holes” In news. The second part is devoted to techniques which can thwart filtering technology (Choosey our method to get round censorship by Nart Villeneuve). With a little good sense and persistence and above all finding the technique best suited to the situation, every blogger should be capable of shaking off censorship.

Clothilde Le Coz
Head of the Internet Freedom desk

Note Anonymiss Express: contains

46 HOW TO BLOG ANONYMOUSLY WITH WORDPRESS AND TOR by Ethan Zuckerman
54 TECHNICAL WAYS TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP by Nart Villeneuve
71 ENSURING YOUR E-MAIL IS TRULY PRIVATE by Ludovic Pierrat
75 THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS OF CYBER-CENSORSHIP by Clothilde Le Coz

Read it on scribd and download

 

I am not LEFT, I am not RIGHT… I am not HINDU, I am not MUSLIM… I am just a Journalist.


My Case: Let the Jury decide

By Syed Hassan Kazim in http://kindlemag.in

2012-08-30

This time I am not going to write about any particular incident and events surrounding it. Because in a journalist’s life, there comes a time when he has to clarify regarding his own belief , principles, ideas and his own prism through which he sees the things happening around him. After writing for a considerable period of time, he is confronted with an avalanche of questions, and attacked from all sides, left, right and the centre. So please bear with me this time, while I write about my understanding of certain things while standing like a culprit in the ‘’ Janta ki Adalat’’ aka, the jury of the masses.

 

In a short journalistic career of 5 years, I have been attacked from each and every side, from many people because some think that I am an advocate of Islamism, which I am totally not. I hate the radicalism prevailing in my own religion as much as I hate the orthodoxy prevailing in the other. The rightists think that I am leftist and the leftists think that I am a rightist. If I write against the crimes of Narendra ‘’ Milesovic’’ Modi,  I am branded as the sympathizer of Al Qaeda. If I pen down something against Al Qaeda and other radicalists and ‘’Lashkars’’ then I am regarded as a ‘’secularist’’.

 

If I speak against the American, Saudi and Israeli bullying tactics against Iran, I am accused of acting as a Shiahaving a sectarian outlook. Despite agreeing to the fact that Bashar Al Asad is an autocrat and can go to any extent to save his regime, if I write against the way American, Saudi and Turkish backed terrorist groups, most of them, Al Qaeda sponsored and trying to create mayhem in Syria , I am branded as some sort of an Iranian agent and most of the people start reminding me about my opposition to the way the uprising in Bahrain was suppressed. Some people try to compare the situation in Syria and Bahrain despite knowing the fact that in Bahrain, America never wanted a regime change while in Syria, US is hell bent on a regime change as per its own choice for the survival of Israel, America’s biggest and most favoured stooge and ally in the Middle East.

 

Back home, If I speak against the policies of the Congress led UPA and the Congress as a whole, I am accused by the supporters of the Congress as someone who doesn’t know about the way Indian democracy and politics work. Some Congress people even tried to portray me as a sympathizer of Anna, despite knowing the fact that I have been in a great disagreement with Anna’s and his team’s way. If I write against Anna and Ramdev, I am accused of being an agent of Congress who is up there to defame the two ‘’ pious’’ people. Even I am asked that ‘’ you , the Muslims only think about the welfare of your own people, no matter in which part of the world they reside and do not give an iota of attention to the condition and welfare of your fellow Indian citizens’’, as if Anna and Ramdev are the sole spokesmen of the Indian masses. If I ask why Anna becomes silent whenever he is asked to condemn Modi , I am reminded to understand the pros and cons and the limitations of Anna and his movement. I cannot understand where the so called ‘’limitations’’ go when Anna praises Modi on his so called development, and Ramdev shares a dais with the mass murderer of Gujarat?

 

If I write against the massacres of Rohingyas Muslim community in Burma, I am again branded as an Islamist who is always up there to defend Islam and support Muslims. But I think it as my duty as a human being to raise my voice against the injustices being done, no matter against whom. I regard it as my duty to speak against Burmese regime and the criminal silence of Aang Sang Sui Kyi as well as the forceful conversion of the Hindus to Islam in Pakistan.  It sometimes becomes irritating to see the same people who accuse me of being sympathetic to everything which are associated with Muslims, becoming silent and expressionless when I write against the injustices done against the people of other faith residing in the Muslim countries. I think that somehow they prefer to ignore my writings which can break their self created stereotypes regarding me and my views.

 

As a concerned Indian citizen, if I write against the human rights violations in Kashmir, I am branded as some sort of a sympathizer of the separatist forces and an anti- national; traitor, as if an Indian has no right to speak against the excesses of the security forces.

 

The list is long but just to sum up, I would like to request my friends to start looking at me as a journalist first, and everything else later.  I do not want to impose my religious ideology on others. I will speak and write against the injustices and tyrannies, no matter they are done against anyone, at whichever place or country. After all, the thing which suffers and matters most is the humanity and humane values.  The blood of a single innocent human being is equal to the blood of entire humanity and everyone in his own capacity and rights should speak against the tyrants and unjust system. It’s our duty as human beings which we cannot forget or ignore.

 

In an age of post modernization, no one owes any explanation to anyone about what he believes, but this write up is just an effort, so that people can understand my writings in the right perspective. Hope my effort won’t go in vain and I will stand vindicated in the ultimate analysis.

#Mangalore Mob attack- TV reporter’s version #VAW #Moralpolicing


The shameful news of Mangalore is very well known to you all. It is a good sign that eight assailants have been arrested in relation to this case. Along with the eight of the assailants the reporter Naveen Soorinje who reported the incident first has also been booked under section unlawful activities prevention act along with the eight assailants.  A friend in mail sent the account of the shameful event and him being framed in the case.
Here is what Naveen Soorinje has to say, A TRANSLATION….
At 6.45 in the evening on July 28, one of my news sources from Padil (in Mangalore) called me. This was all he told me: “Naveen, around 30 men have gathered near the Timber Yard in Padil Junction and I overheard them talking to someone trying to coax them to gather some more people. They were instructing someone to be prepared with their motorbikes. It looks like they are planning to attack the guest house in Padil. I overheard them saying something like Muslim boys and Hindu girls.”
I asked him to find out which organization the men belonged to. All he could gather was that they were from some Hindutva organization, though he could not find out the name of the exact organization they belonged to.
The immediate thought that crossed my mind was this: “Should I inform the police right away or should I not?” The dilemma was because there was no accurate information as to who belonging to which organization was to attack whom and where. I just had very rudimentary information on hand. If the members of the organization had called me themselves, I could have indeed informed the police instantly. As the news came from a my source, I thought I should inform the police only after confirming the news. Having come to this decision, I set out on my bike to Padil along with my cameraman.
In a while, my cameraman and I were outside the guest house/ home stay named Morning Mist located on the hill in Padil. None of the attackers who eventually turned up were present at the spot then.We stood there for five minutes unable to understand why anyone would plan to attack that particular home stay which is located half a kilometer away from the highway cutting through Padil. The home stay is surrounded by a tall compound wall on all four sides. There is only one gate and 60 meters from the gate is the home stay. I stood near the gate and watched. There was nothing happening inside that could conceivably provoke an attack. A girl was sitting outside on a chair and two boys in another corner of the bungalow were absorbed in their mobile games. They were not indulging in any activity which can be considered illegal. That is the reason why I did not inform the police at that point of time. If my information turned out to be wrong, it would be an unnecessary anxiety for the entire police department.
While I was making all these calculations in my mind, I saw a group of over 30 people marching towards the home stay. Out of curiosity I asked them in Tulu: “Do you know what the matter is? What is happening here?” Some boys in the group pointed to the girl sitting outside saying: “Look, there is the girl and there are the guys…” They ran towards them, all set for attack. The girl, who realized that the group was there to attack, ran inside the bungalow and tried to close the door unsuccessfully. The group of 30 managed to run to the door and open it before the girl could close it completely.
Only at that point was I completely aware of what was happening and my conscience was also awakened. I immediately called Ravish Nayak, Inspector, Mangalore (Rural) (+91-948085330) from my official number (+91-9972570044). That must have been around 7.15 p.m. Ravish Nayaka did not receive my call. On the other hand, the assault had just begun. The girls started running helterskelter failing to understand what was happening. The police personnel were not receiving the calls being made. I asked my friend Rajesh Rao of TV-9 to call the police and Ravish Nayak did not receive the call made by Rajesh Rao either.
While I was trying to get in touch with the police inspector, the cameraman ran behind the attackers and got started on his duty of recording the action. Till then only my cameraman and I were present at the spot but were soon joined by the cameraman of Sahaya TV, Sharan, and a photographer, Vinay Krishna. I was a mute witness to all that was happening there, with the guilt of not being able to do anything. More than half the attackers had consumed alcohol and were not in a position to listen to anything. I have been witness to violent incidents in my life, but never before violence of this scale and nature. Our cameraman was running wherever the group was attacking individuals. I was watching it and screaming and requesting, “Don’t hit the girls.” My request reached the camera sound recorder but did not reach the attackers.The boys who were attacked were pleading, “Please leave us. We are having a birthday party here. Please…” and were falling at the feet of the attackers. But nothing moved the attackers. If it were to be just this, probably I could have forgotten the incident. But I saw something much more terrible and shocking.
The girls who saw the boys being trashed were shocked at the sight and ran in all directions only to be followed by the attackers. Believe it or not, one of the girls jumped down from the first floor but was caught by nearly 20 attackers who began to pull out her clothes. They slapped her and pushed her to the wall. By then the girl in pink clothes managed to run away. When the attackers caught her, she was literally stripped naked. Leaving her with only one piece of cloth the assailants molested her. This sight sent a chill down my spine. Never in my life had I seen something as horrific as this, though I had heard of such things. These were the scenes which could not become visuals for the news. Only a portion of the incident was shot. Later on, all the boys and girls partying there were locked inside a room. All this happened in a matter of 15 minutes.
When the attackers were done with one round of their planned action, Inspector Ravish along with Police S.I. Manikantha Neelaswamy and others arrived at the spot. It appeared as though the police had a tie-up with the attackers. For over half an hour the police were in conversation with the attackers. I was utterly shocked by the scene of police conversing with the them. While they were conversing, one boy who was in the partying group tried to escape, but was caught by the police. When in the custody of the police, the attackers trashed him.
By then many media persons had arrived at the spot. My cameraman and I returned to the office and uplinked all the visuals to the Bangalore office. At 8:45 p.m. the news was aired. Within no time the visuals of our channel was used by national channels and thus the incident became national news. This angered city police Commissioner Seemanth Kumar who called my friend Rajesh Rao of TV-9 who then was with me. Rajesh put the call on loud speaker while Seemanth Kumar was saying: “Why should Naveen have reported the incident? I will teach him a lesson. He not only compared this incident to the Assam incident, but also said that Mangalore is being Talibanized. This time he will be taught a lesson. We will fix him in this case and none of his contacts at any level will be of any help.” It is crystal clear from the words of Seemanth Kumar that his concern was not the attack itself, but the fact of the attack being reported.
This morning I received yet another shock. The attacked boys and girls had given statements against me at the Mangalore Rural Police Station. I was sure that those statements were given under pressure. I guess the boys and girls had heard me requesting the assailants not to trash them. By evening my doubt was cleared. Speaking to the media the attacked boys and girls said: “We haven’t complained against the media. They have stood in our support.”
Mangalore (Rural) police have filed a case against me under the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The police have arrested eight of the assailants with the help of our visuals. The incident we have reported is shameful, not the visuals we have shown. The 28 July incident at Mangalore is neither a stray incident nor are such attacks in Mangalore a new phenomenon. Every week such incidents take place. Fundamentalists not only attack boys and girls mixing with the boys and girls of another religions but also take them to the police station. This incident would have taken place even if I had not shot it. Our recording has revealed the inhuman face of the fascists and has led to the arrest of eight attackers. No matter what is said and what cases are booked against me, I believe I have done my duty as a reporter and that is the only satisfaction to my hurt self.
It doesn’t matter to me that there are complaints filed against me and an FIR has been lodged. I will be happy if the attackers are punished because of the FIR lodged against me. If I am to be freed of these charges because of some pressure and if that is going to benefit the the attackers in any way, then I do not need such freedom. No matter what punishment is given to the attackers, it will never do justice to those girls who were assaulted right in front of my eyes. Yet they need to be punished.
There is more to write, but time does not permit. If any individual or association needs more information to fight the cause or if any investigation team needs more information, I can be contacted at any time of the day.
My address:
Naveen Soorinje
Reporter
Kasturi News 24
Mangalore
Mobile: +91-9972570044. +91-8971987904

Manufactured Shame- Guwahati Incident


 

 

The telecast of a young girl’s molestation in the heart of Guwahati by a local news channel has jolted the nation’s consciousness. Ratnadip Choudhury exposes the sordid truth behind the horrific act

Public outcry Youngsters protesting the horrific molestation that shook up the city

Photo: Ujjal Deb

WHAT WAS initially touted by a news channel as an exposé on the depravity and moral turpitude in society is now emerging as an event which was manipulated by the channel to “create” news. On 9 July, the whole country was outraged by a video clip aired by News Live, a leading news channel of Assam, which showed a young girl being groped, clawed, beaten and molested in full public glare outside a pub on the busy GS Road of Guwahati, the Northeast’s biggest city.


People were shocked, the people of Assam more than anybody else. Public morality had hit an all-time low. How could this happen on a busy street of a state capital? How could bystanders watch as a mob of not less than 30 men humiliated a young girl? Where was the police in all this? There was a storm of outrage as social media sites went into overdrive. Questions were raised and debated, calling for a strong protest against this heinous act.

Amidst all this clamour, another question gnawing at the sides was the role played by the news channel, News Live, which filmed the whole episode. RTI activist and leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) Akhil Gogoi claimed to have laid his hands on video clippings that demonstrated that the News Live reporter who filmed the whole incident had instigated the mob. TEHELKA has reviewed these clips and the truth is horrifying.

Akhil alleged that Gaurav Jyoti Neog, the News Live reporter who had called in his camera unit to film the incident, had orchestrated the molestation to “manufacture” a “sensational news piece” to boost the channel’s TRP. “News Live is promoted by Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, his wife Riniki Bhuyan Sharma is its chief managing director (CMD),” says Akhil. “The channel has been involved in false and fabricated news from the start, but this one has been the most unethical. News Live reporter Gaurav Jyoti Neog has instigated the molestation and I have video footage to prove that.” The raw footage has since been handed over to state DGP Jayanto Narayan Choudhury. Sources say that in its preliminary report to the Union home ministry, the police has hinted at the reporter’s involvement in instigating the molesters. Gaurav has been working for News Live since 2009.

Interestingly, the News Live office is located at Christian Basti, not far from Club Mint Bar where the incident occurred. The channel has admitted that Akhil got the footage from somebody in their office. TEHELKA has found that there were people in the office who were against this kind of unethical journalism, and these were the people who handed over the footage to Akhil to blow the lid off the whole episode. The channel’s Managing Editor Syed Zarir Hussain has admitted that it was a News Live reporter who shot all the raw footage. There are two shots of footages. One shot by an open camera used by channels to cover news, and the other footage, which actually indicts the news reporter was shot by the reporter himself on his own mobile camera. The digital camera visuals were shot by News Live reporter Dibya Bordoloi and his cameraperson Jugal, reporter Gaurav Jyoti Neog shot the other clips with his cell phone.

Permanent scar A video grab of the girl being molested by the mob in Guwahati

In a reconstruction of the hitherto unaired footage, we have tried to recount what happened outside the Club Mint Bar on the evening of 9 July.

According to News Live, reporter Gaurav Jyoti Neog was on his way home from work when he heard the ruckus outside Club Mint (the bar is about 200 metres from the channel’s office) and started shooting with his cell phone. Sensing something sensational afoot, he asked his office for a camera unit to be sent to the spot. Though the channel claims that Gaurav had asked the news desk to inform the police, nothing in the raw footage or otherwise that establishes this claim. The Assam Police has maintained that they received no calls from News Live or any other media organisation informing them about the molestation. The first calls it got, the police claims, came from Club Mint and later from the Hotel Gateway Grandeur, situated close to the pub.

The footage starts at the point after two girls have been thrown out of the pub following a scuffle over a lost ATM card as the victim recollects later. The girls are waiting on the road for an autorickshaw, when ambient noises are heard in the background. The conversation is not very clear. Later, one can see that a group of boys, who were standing outside the bar at a wine shop, had been recording the girls’ movements with their cell phones and had passed some comment. One girl in a white T-shirt and a pair of shorts slaps one of the boys. The footage then shows the girl engaged in a physical struggle with the boys. The other — the victim — is wearing a black top and shorts. A male voice is heard: “Send a camera immediately near the income tax office.” Akhil claims this is the voice of the News Live reporter Gaurav, a fact admitted by the channel, which has aired the same visual with the same voice claiming it to be Gaurav’s.

FURTHER, THE raw footage shows the other girl being chased by a group of boys. Someone shouts: “Catch her, make her naked, make her naked, catch her.” This voice is strikingly similar to the voice the channel admits belongs to Gaurav. (The authenticity could only be proved by a forensic examination, but ex facie it does appear to be Gaurav’s) This can be deduced from the circumstances around the clippings. In a situation where there is a lot of noise in the background, it is likely that the most audible voice will be of the person holding the phone. Also, most of the people voice matches the earlier male voice that News Live had itself identified as belonging to Gaurav.

‘Please come quickly, she has been caught… (to the mob) the camera is here. Hold her. Hold her,’ the voice in the footage is heard saying

What follows there after are horrific scenes of the girl being pulled from all sides, thrashed and fondled. Someone pulls her top to expose her bra, another man gropes her private parts when she is pinned down. She cries and shouts for help, and tries her best to free herself. A voice is heard saying: “Make her naked, let people see her… she is a prostitute and she dares to do this.” The molestation gets even more violent, more brutal. The frame, albeit shaky, is clear enough to see the girl struggling all the while screaming “help, help!” This blood-curdling scene plays out again and again. Bystanders can be seen watching, some from a distance, some to get a ringside view. No one comes forward to help the traumatised girl.

Hunter-to-hunted Rup Kanta Kalita (27), Deba Das (22), Nabajyoti Barua (22), Jitu Moni Deka (30) and Dipak Deb (50), five of the alleged accused being produced before the CJM Court on 17 July

As the recording continues, the same male voice is heard again, this time distinctly: “Please come quickly, she has been caught… (to the mob) the camera is here, hold her, hold her.” Circumstances suggest that this could again be Gaurav’s voice, because he has called his colleague at the News Live office, Dibya Bordoloi to come to the spot with a camera team.

Night duty reporter Dibya Bordoloi arrives with the cameraperson. The camera rolls, this time with the lights on. The face of the main accused Amarjyoti Kalita becomes distinct here. Kalita in a red T-shirt and a cap, takes charge of what has by now become a circus. The footage shows how the girl breaks away twice from the molesters, only to be brought back each time. Pulled by her hair, her jacket ripped apart, her undergarments visible, the mob was enacting a “live act” in its most horrific form. Amarjyoti was pulling the girl by her undergarments, another assaulter was pulling her by her hair. This part of the raw footage caught on News Live cameras holds the key for the police investigation. This is the part that Akhil has not released to the media and News Live has not aired.

Many questions arise out of this. Did any of the molesters personally know the reporter? Police sources confirmed that almost all the molesters whose faces have been identified did not have prior criminal records. A well-placed source in the Assam Police has confirmed that Gaurav knew prime accused Amarjyoti pretty well; a few others in the mob knew each other since they worked in the same area. So the question automatically veers towards the intent of “manufacturing” news. Or does it go deeper than that? Only a forensic test of the raw footage will throw up conclusive answers. Managing Editor Hussain defends his reporter. “It is because News Live had aired the visuals that the molesters are behind bars,” he says. “If we had given the footage to the cops directly, it would have been put in cold storage as has happened frequently in the past.”

Even after Mukul Kalita and some other people restore order and call the cops, Amarjyoti Kalita is still seen trying to grab the girl from behind

In the open camera footage, the perpetrators were clearly enjoying being filmed. Some were even smiling at the camera. Gaurav is also seen wearing a black T-shirt and a pair of jeans. “Initially, Gaurav tried to protest, but things went out of control so our reporters kept rolling,” defends Hussain. TEHELKA found no video frames or audio streams in the raw footage, to remotely suggest that Gaurav tried to dissuade the mob at any time. Though the footage does show that the other reporter Dibya shouts at the molesters and even tries to rescue the girl. Despite numerous attempts to contact Gaurav, the reporter was not available for any comment.

The footage then shows the girl running towards traffic on the busy GS Road asking car drivers for help. The mob follows her shouting that she is a prostitute. Incredibly, this seems reason enough for people not to intervene in what they could have seen as an act of moral policing. A man on a motorcycle tries to stop the crowd, but in vain. It is only when vernacular daily Ajir Axom’s senior journalist Mukul Kalita, who happened to be passing by, interferes, that some other people also come to the rescue of the girl. Dibya also tries to bring some order. No such effort is made by Gaurav.

After some order has been restored, Gaurav is heard shouting at Dibya for not carrying the channel mic ID (channel logo attached to the mike) and snatches the gun mic before asking the victim: “Please tell me what happened.” What the girl says is perhaps the most telling statement in the footage. “I was returning home after attending a birthday party, you have done it… you people have done it,” she says. This is a shocking revelation. Akhil claims that the victim was talking about Gaurav and the molesters. News Live claims nothing is conclusive; traumatised as she was, the girl might have meant all the people or some people around her, or may be venting at the constant rolling of the camera.

Atanu Bhuyan Tarun Gogoi
Former News Live Editor-in-chief Atanu Bhuyan; Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi addressing the media

TEHELKA has in its possession a copy of the victim’s statement at the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court. Written in Assamese, one section of the statement reads thus: “…they started to tear off my clothes; a media team was shooting the scene instead of helping me. The mob tore my clothes and started groping my private parts. I somehow saved my face from being exposed by the camera. I was shellshocked. A gentleman saved me, the police arrived and dropped me home.”

The footage reveals people led by Mukul Kalita trying to convince cops to reach the spot fast and also trying to ensure the girl’s safety. Even then, Amarjyoti Kalita is seen smiling and grabbing the victim from behind.

Above the din, Dibya is heard telling Gaurav: “This girl’s career, future is ruined.” After a brief pause, a voice, probably Gaurav’s, is heard: “Ruined meaning?” Leaning towards Gaurav, Dibya’s face is visible for a second. “I have done all this!” someone says. Though TEHELKA cannot independently verify this, a comparison with other audio streams in the clip gives the impression that the voice making this boast belongs to Gaurav. The footage ends with the girl being taken away by the police. The molestation even then and the mob groped the girl even while she was seated in the police van.

THE COPS have already taken voice samples of Gaurav and confiscated the News Live camera, tapes and computers where the video footage was processed. The memory card of the cell phones that he was using has also been sent for forensic tests. After Akhil handed over the raw footage to the cops, Gaurav resigned from News Live. In his defence he said he had quit to ensure “a free and fair investigation”. On 18 July, he applied for an anticipatory bail at the Gauhati High Court, though he still has not been named an accused or detained by the police.

Launched in January 2008, News Live gained reputation for its smart presentation, vast coverage and a knack for breaking news before anyone else. The past few months had seen the channel dedicating huge chunks of airtime to what many describe as “on-air moral policing”. From stories of young girls getting drunk and unruly scenes inside bars and on the streets to hosting regular panel discussions on what women should wear, the channel was almost on a moral crusade.

In 2011, News Live Editor-in-chief Atanu Bhuyan made it to the headlines of national dailies after he made unsavoury comments about Aahom girls from upper Assam. The Tai-Aahom Students’ Union had even locked down News Live bureau offices in upper Assam towns.

Interestingly, Akhil’s claims of “manufactured” news got approval from an unexpected quarter. In a press conference, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi came down heavily on the news channel. “I cannot approve the fact that the TV crew went on rolling their tapes for almost 45 minutes without making efforts to save the girl,” said a stern-looking Gogoi. The chief minister has asked the CID to investigate the role of the channel in the molestation. A team of police officers led by DGP Choudhury has been entrusted with the task of nabbing the culprits. The chief minister has said that a crackdown will happen without infringing on the freedom of the press.

Of the 14 molesters who have been identified, the cops have already arrested 12. At the time of going to press, two, including prime accused Amarjyoti Kalita — a casual employee of the state government’s information technology agency AMTRON — were still absconding.

Angry wave Social activist Akhil Gogoi leading a demonstration in front of the News Live office on 15 July

Photo: Ujjal Deb

Editor Atanu Bhuyan quit his office, not owning moral responsibility, but citing apprehensions that the chief minister would “pressurise” the management to sack him. For his part, the CM got the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW) Mamta Sharma to visit Guwahati and meet the victim, after an earlier NCW fact-finding team led by Alka Lamba left Guwahati without meeting him. Lamba was later removed for naming the victim during a press conference. Shockingly, even the CM’S office repeated the same callousness. After Tarun Gogoi had met the victim, the CM’s office released pictures of the girl with Gogoi. Not only this, they even revealed her identity. Though Gogoi later apologised for the slip-up, asking the media not to publish the pictures, he continued naming her.

THE INCIDENT has scarred Assam. The state that prides itself on its treatment of women has now been reduced to a group of bystanders. “The rest of the country protested violently, people started calling Guwahati a city of bystanders,” says Guwahati-based author Ayushman Dutta. “People watched with voyeuristic pleasure the horrific scenes of a girl being ravaged on the streets. Some even took photos and made the odd MMS, but no one stopped their car to help her, they did not even bother to lower their car windows.” The incident has also sparked a debate on the mad race of news channels for TRPs.

Interestingly, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), both of which have never missed a chance to issue diktats on New Year’s or Valentine’s Day, have maintained a stony silence on this.

But, it is with the police that the buck finally stops. The government has put the wheels in motion. The SSP, Guwahati city, Apurba Jibon Baruah has been transferred. “We are looking at all aspects of the evidence. If the reporter and the channel are found guilty, we will act,” says DGP Choudhury.

The brutality was not confined to the street. NCW member Alka Lamba, and even the CM’s office, named the victim without a care for her reputation

Tarun Gogoi has declared that he will create the position of a City Police Commissioner. But many of the recommendations of the expert committee constituted after the 2008 serial blasts in Guwahati has been kept in cold storage. “Almost all our recommendations have not been implemented,” says HK Deka, former DGP and member of the expert committee on police reforms. “With the city moving fast to becoming a metro, police modernisation is a must, transferring the SSP is not a solution.” In size and population, Guwahati is similar to Bhubaneswar. However, where the Odisha capital has 3,500 dedicated police personnel, the Guwahati City Police has 210 sub-inspectors and 1,300 constables manning the streets. Nowhere is this void felt more than in the pubs and clubs of the city.

But for all this, if it turns out that the media has behaved in a callous manner, its very relevance will be questioned. If proven true, this would perhaps be the first incident in which a media house has had a frighteningly complicit role in a despicable crime against a woman. While it is almost sure that this is our News Of The World moment, media houses, especially electronic media, need to rethink their priorities: higher TRPs or news ethic. Until that happens, the spectacle will continue.

Ratnadip Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent with Tehelka.
ratnadip@tehelka.com

 

Koodankulam Update March 21, 2012


10:00 AM

Electricity, Water and Food Supply stopped in Idinthakarai

All roads and sea routes to reach Idinthakarai are blocked. Police personnel forcibly took away mobiles phones and water supply equipments.

School run by Dr. S P Udayakumar damaged badly last night. School bus is also damaged.

There are 8000 children among the 20,000 protesting people in Idinthakarai. Milk supply to the village is also prevented and its affecting the children badly.

Media entry to Idinthakarai is also prevented.

Press freedom stifled in India’s Naxal areas


         13 February 2012 -| By Gayatri Parameswaran

It might be the world’s largest democracy but India is struggling to defend its democratic status in the ‘red corridor’ – areas troubled by Naxalite or Maoist insurgency. Expectedly, press freedom is taking a beating. Some activists say the government is controlling information to hide its bad human rights track record.

“I can’t meet you openly. Let’s get into your car and drive away from here. We’ll talk in the car,” Satish Naik tells me over the phone. Naik is a local TV journalist in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh state in India’s Naxalite belt.

Epicentre
One of the least developed areas in the country, Dantewada has been at the epicentre of the conflict between the Indian government and the Naxalites in the past few years. Government reports suggest that in 2011, over 500 people have died in the violence. A recent Human Rights Watch report condemned India for its handling of the security situation in the Naxalite war zone. It said, “Impunity for abuses committed by security forces remains a pressing concern.”

The Naxalite movement began in West Bengal in 1960s and spread to central India in the 70s and 80s as a popular armed revolt. The Naxalites claim to be fighting on behalf of adivasis (indigenous tribals), the main victims of the land grabs sponsored by multinationals with the help of the Indian government. The tribals are living on land rich in minerals and forest resources and there are fortunes to be made from the exploitation of the natural wealth.

Surreptitious
Naik is justifiably cautious about being seen to be helping an outside journalist. In recent years, the police has arrested and beaten tribals and local journalists who tried to tell the story of official repression in the region’s remote rural communities. “They [police forces] might get curious about who you are and what you are trying to find out. They might follow us,” he warns just before the phone line is cut.

Mobile lines in Dantewada and other Naxal areas are notoriously unreliable, and journalists and activists are conscious that they could be bugged. When I arrive to pick him up, Naik dives quickly into the car and urges us to leave immediately. At the frequent police check points on the road, he hides his face and at times ducks away.

Self-censorship
Naik says that the authorities believe that most ‘outsiders’ come looking for ‘human rights-type’ stories that would put them in a bad light. “I don’t want to be seen as assisting outside journalists. I have to be careful, because I could get into trouble,” he stresses.

Naik tells me that the war has challenged India’s democratic character: “It’s not like rest of India here. There’s no freedom of movement or expression.” Journalists bucking the local system can lead to trouble, so many journalists subscribe to self-censorship. This has led to a blackout of important information.

Vengeance
Recently, Naik received a notice from the local authorities ordering him to vacate his house. He had written a story “about how a local collector abused his local labourer.” He says, “A few days later I got the notice.”

Naik was accused of illegally occupying forest land, but he says, “This is a tactic to bully me. The house isn’t registered on my name, but the notice was served under my name.”

Attacks
Human rights activist Himanshu Kumar says there have been cases of independent journalists being attacked, threatened, intimidated and even killed. He recounts the recent case of Lingaram Kodopi, an adivasi from Dantewada district.

Kodopi was the first tribal to be enrolled for a journalism course in Delhi. Last year, he filmed testimonies from villagers after a police raid where houses were burnt and several people were killed. After the film was released to the Indian media, Kodopi was arrested, and while he was in custody, he was brutally beaten. When his aunt, Soni Sori, filed a protest, she too was arrested and beaten. Both are now in prison, accused of being Naxalites.

Read more here

A Guide to Anchoring and Reporting on News Channels


Citizens for Free and Responsible Media, Pakistan (CFRM-Pakistan) would like to share a basic checklist of what you, as media consumers, believe as the do’s and dont’s that news anchors and reporters are supposed to be familiar with, and that rest of the media consumers should also be aware of.

Good anchors/reporters:

  • Present news that is grounded in facts.
  • Make clear distinctions in their reporting and/or coverage between news and opinion.
  • Present opinion in their reporting and/or coverage that is grounded in various viewpoints based on at least two ‘experts.’
  • Stay neutral while moderating or presenting, even on issues they ardently believe in or oppose.
  • Are dispassionate in their reporting and use of language irrespective of the issue they are covering.
  • Always show respect to their subjects and guests.
  • Stay clear of stereotyping and judgement calls in their reporting and coverage.
  • Are mindful of the impact their coverage will have on their subjects and/or guests.
  • Take precautions to ensure that their report will not lead to any harm to their subjects and/or those associated with their subjects.

Bad anchors/reporters:

  • Present opinion that is passed off as fact or news.
  • Do not make clear distinctions in their reporting and/or coverage between news and opinion.
  • Present opinion in their reporting and/or coverage that is grounded in singular viewpoints, and/or based on one ‘expert.’
  • Take sides with guests or present their own viewpoint while they are moderating or presenting.
  • Allow their emotions to show in their use of language and physical expressions.
  • Disrespect their subjects/guests or certain groups in their reporting/coverage.
  • Use language and expressions that stereotypes certain groups.
  • Preach their own version of morality or ‘right and wrong’ in their presentation or reporting.
  • Are irresponsible in their coverage and are not mindful of the impact coverage will have their subjects and guests.
  • Do not take necessary precautions to ensure that their report/coverage will not lead to harm to their subjects and/or those associated with their subjects.

CFRM-Pakistan are activists, academics, lawyers, journalists and citizens from all walks of life—essentially media consumers—serving as an independent platform to voice public concerns about media freedom and responsibility in Pakistan.

 

In case of any query, please feel free to contact us at: c4frm@gmail.com 


Iran ‘detaining’ relatives of journalists: BBC


 The Iranian government has arrested relatives of Persian-language journalists working abroad for the BBC in a bid to silence them.

LONDON: The Iranian government has arrested relatives of Persian-language journalists working abroad for the BBC in a bid to silence them, the British Broadcasting Corporation said Friday.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson said the sister of a BBC Persian journalist was arrested last week and held in solitary confinement on unspecified charges at Evin Prison in Tehran, before being released on bail.

“Her treatment was utterly deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” Thompson wrote in a blog, adding that it was only the latest incident “in a campaign of bullying and harassment by the Iranian authorities”.

Human Rights Watch also raised concerns about the arrest. Its Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson warned it was “part of a wider campaign to harass Iranian journalists by putting pressure on them and their families”.

Tehran was sending a clear message “that the government’s long arm of repression can extend well beyond borders,” she said.

Foreign Office Middle East Minister Alistair Burt said he utterly condemned Iran’s “deplorable” tactics.

While it is not the first time the BBC has complained about Iranian harassment of its journalists, Thompson said the past few months had seen “increased levels of intimidation alongside disturbing new tactics.

“In recent months a number of relatives of members of BBC Persian staff have been detained for short periods of time by the Iranian authorities and urged to get their relatives in London to either stop working for the BBC, or to ‘cooperate’ with Iranian intelligence officials,” he said.

Relatives’ passports had been confiscated, preventing them leaving Iran, while BBC staff had been accused in the Iranian media of offences such as sexual assault, drug trafficking and converting from Islam to Christianity.

Thompson called on Tehran to repudiate the actions of its officials and urged governments and international bodies to help stop “this campaign of intimidation, persistent censorship and a disturbing abuse of power”.

BBC Persian, based in London, is a multimedia news and information service for Persian speakers in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and around the world.

Iran has frequently accused the BBC of fuelling the unrest that broke out following the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

An unnamed BBC staff member who spoke to Human Rights Watch said he and his colleagues had been exposed “to almost daily insults and personal attacks on various pro-government websites and blogs inside Iran”.

But the targeting of relatives “is really a red line for us, and we can’t stay silent”, the BBC worker said.

Foreign Office minister Burt said the Iranian authorities had a “shameful track record” of using family members to put pressure on Iranian lawyers, journalists and human rights activists.

“Such deplorable tactics illustrate again the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran, and the desperation of the Iranian regime to silence any independent voices,” he said.

“The international community has repeatedly called on the Iranian authorities to cease harassment and intimidation of journalists and to prevent illegal jamming of broadcasts. We will continue to do so.”   Published: February 4, 2012 AFP

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