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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thane rural SP suspended for Facebook arrests, magistrate shunted


-IBNLive:
Mumbai- Thane Superintendent of Police (rural) and Palghar police station Sub-Inspector have been suspended for disobeying the orders of superiors while arresting two girls for a Facebook post on late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. Thane SP (rural) Ravindra Sengaonkar has been suspended after IG Konkan Range recommended departmental action against the officer.

Announcing the suspension in Mumbai on Monday, Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil said that from now on police have been authorised to apply the Information technology Act only after consulting legal experts. "This decision has been taken by the state government. Thane (rural) SP and Palghar Sub-Inspector has been suspended for disobeying the orders of superiors," said Patil.

Earlier, Palghar first-class magistrate Ramchandra Bagade, who had given bail to two girls arrested for a Facebook post on late Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray on a bond of Rs 15,000 each, was transferred by the Bombay High Court. Bagade's transfer came over a week after a girl from Palghar in Thane was arrested for a Facebook post in which she had asked why Mumbai was virtually shut down during Bal Thackeray's funeral. Her friend was arrested for liking the post.

The 21-year-old in Palghar had also told CNN-IBN she was not traumatised and had only apologised for she feared for the safety of her family. The girls were arrested on a complaint by Bhushan Sankhe, a Shiv Sena shakha pramukh and the clinic of an uncle of one of the girls was ransacked by a mob protesting against the Facebook comment.

After a high level inquiry, charges were finally dropped against the 21-year-old girl who posted comments on Bal Thackeray. The Inspector General Konkan Range had on November 23 submitted his investigation report into the arrest of the two girls. In his report, the IG said that the arrest of the girls by the police was unjustified.
The probe report also recommended action against the police officials involved in the arrest of the girls. It said that there must be departmental action against the policemen for arresting them. The report also questioned the local policemen for defying top officers in arresting the girls. The 150-page report was sent to the state government, which took action on the basis of it.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

131 on the press freedom index: A wake up call for India?

-Thetimesofindia:
WASHINGTON- Just in case you did not know, India ranks 131st — between Burundi and Angola — in the 2012 press freedom index of Reporters without Borders. Freedom House puts India in the "party free" category in the 2012 Internet freedom rankings, below Argentina, South Africa, and Ukraine. So much for the world's largest democracy.

India's bragging rights about being one of the world's thriving civil societies with strong free speech statutes, already under a cloud, is facing searching questions following several episodes aimed at curbing freedom of expression. Two young women thrown in the clink for questioning the over-the-top response to Bal Thackeray's death is the latest incident to attract attention of free speech advocates, civil liberties activists, and the world media.

Both Thackeray's death and the aftermath, including massive crowds at the funeral and arrests of the young women received wide coverage in US by a media hard-pressed to understand the granular details of Mumbai's parochial and chauvinistic politics. "A demagogue freezes Mumbai for the last time," was the headline of a Bloomberg report while the Chicago Sun-Times described Thackerey as a "Hindu extremist leader linked to waves of mob violence against Muslims and migrant workers in India."

But the freedom of expression issue went beyond Thackeray's death and the Facebook episode that resulted in police bearing down on two young women who have been bullied into silence for questioning the enforced mourning. Free speech mavens recalled several incidents in recent times, including Congress party shenanigans to muzzle social media, to muse about the decline of civil liberties in India.

The RWB report, for instance, says there is an increasing trend in India of web monitoring and censorship by authorities. According to the Google Transparency website, which logs the Internet content removal requests that Google receives from governments, Indian officials have asked Google multiple times (67 to be exact, between July and December 2010) to remove 282 content items (namely videos critical of politicians) from YouTube and several blogs. Google allegedly complied with 22% of the requests, says RWB.

A Freedom House 2012 study of 47 countries on the subject of Internet freedom ranks India in the "partly free" category, a rank below fully free countries such as USA, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Australia. In its study of key internet controls, the report cites India for blocking Web 2.0, localized or nationwide ICT shutdown, passing new laws increasing censorship, and arrests of bloggers for political and social commentary.

"Ever since the 2008 Bombay attacks, the authorities have been intensifying their Internet surveillance and pressure on technical service providers while publicly denying censorship accusations. The national security policy of the world's largest democracy is undermining online freedom of expression and Internet users' privacy," the RWB report noted.

Some of the ranking makes little sense. In the RWB report on press freedom, for instance, Jamaica, Namibia, and Mali are ranked in the top 25, and Papua New Guinea, Ghana, and Botswana are in top 50; the US came in only 47th and India 131st, down from 122nd in 2010 and 105th in 2009.

So do the media in Mali and Papua New Guinea have greater freedom than in US and India? Not really. The RWB index is based on a complex questionnaire that asks about every kind of violation directly affecting journalists and netizens (including murders, imprisonment, physical attacks and threats) and news media (censorship, confiscation of newspaper issues, searches and harassment). It also measures the level of self-censorship in each country and the ability of the media to investigate and criticize. Financial pressure is also assessed and incorporated into the final score.

The questionnaire also takes account of the legal framework for the media (including penalties for press offences, the existence of a state monopoly for certain kinds of media and how the media are regulated) and the level of independence of the public media. It also reflects violations of the free flow of information on the Internet. The index, says RWB, should in no way be taken as an indication of the quality of the media in the countries concerned. Still, the numbers do not look good for India. And the recent incidents don't augur well.
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Justice Katju writes to Maharashtra CM on arrest of girl for Thackeray FB update


-IBNlive:
Mumbai- The reported arrest of a 21-year-old girl over her Facebook status update questioning the shutdown of Mumbai over Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray's death has drawn flak from former Supreme Court Judge and chairman of Press Council of India Justice Markandey Katju who has written to Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, seeking his active intervention in the matter.

In the letter addressed to Chavan, Justice Katju has written: "It is alleged that she has been arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. To my mind it is absurd to say that protesting against a bandh hurts religious sentiments. Under Article 19(1)(a) of our Constitution, freedom of speech is a guaranteed fundamental right. We are living in a democracy, not a fascist dictatorship. In fact this arrest itself appears to be a criminal act since under sections 341 and 342 it is a crime to wrongfully arrest or wrongfully confine someone who has committed no crime.

Hence if the facts reported are correct, I request you to immediately order the suspension, arrest, chargesheeting and criminal prosecution of the police personnel (however high they may be) who ordered as well as implemented the arrest of that woman, failing which I will deem it that you as Chief Minister are unable to run the state in a democratic manner as envisaged by the Constitution to which you have taken oath, and then the legal consequences will follow."

The 21-year-old girl was allegedly arrested from the town of Palghar along with a friend of hers who had liked the status. This reportedly happened even after the girl withdrew the status and apologised for the same.
The Internet has been abuzz about the arrest of the girl with Thackeray loyalists denouncing the girl's action and others defending her freedom of speech. Unconfirmed reports of a mob of Shiv Sena workers attacking and ransacking the girl's uncle's orthopaedic clinic at Palghar have also come in.


Read: A Letter to Maharashtra CM

To,
The Chief Minister
 Maharashtra

 Dear Chief Minister,
                I am forwarding an email I have received stating that a woman in Maharashtra has been arrested for protesting on Facebook against the shut down in Mumbai on the occasion of the death of Mr. Bal Thackeray. It is alleged that she has been arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
> To my mind it is absurd to say that protesting against a bandh hurts religious sentiments. Under Article 19(1)(a) of our Constitution freedom of speech is a guaranteed fundamental right . We are living in a democracy, not a fascist dictatorship. In fact this arrest itself appears to be a criminal act since under sections 341 and 342 it is a crime to wrongfully arrest or wrongfully confine someone who has committed no crime.
 Hence if the facts reported are correct, I request you to immediately order the suspension, arrest, chargesheeting and criminal prosecution of the police personnel (however high they may be) who ordered as well as implemented the arrest of that woman, failing which I will deem it that you as Chief Minister are unable to run the state in a democratic manner as envisaged by the Constitution to which you have taken oath, and then the legal consequences will follow

 Regards

 Justice Katju
(Chairman, Press Council of India, and former Judge, Supreme Court of India)

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Friday, November 16, 2012

India summons Irish envoy, conveys "angst" over Savita's death

 Public probe sought over Savita Halappanavar's death
-Press Trust of India: 
New Delhi, India today summoned the Irish Ambassador to convey its "concern and angst" over the untimely and tragic death of an Indian dentist in Ireland after doctors allegedly refused to terminate her 17-week-long pregnancy on the ground that it was a "Catholic country".

In his response, the Ambassador assured that it was Ireland's desire to provide the fullest cooperation in the follow-up inquiries into the circumstances of Savita Halappanavar's death.

Madhusudan Ganapathi, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, summoned Irish Ambassador Feilim McLaughlin. "During his meeting with the Irish Ambassador, Secretary (West) expressed India's concern and angst in the society about the untimely and tragic death of Halappanavar. He said that we were unhappy that a young life had come to an untimely end," official sources said.

The secretary also expressed the hope that the inquiry which has been instituted would be independent and that the Indian Ambassador in Dublin would be provided with information regarding its progress and outcome.

"The Irish Ambassador assured that it was their desire to provide the fullest cooperation of the Irish side in the follow-up inquiries into the circumstances of the death of Halappanavar. He also indicated that the terms of reference for the inquiry are being framed and would be released shortly," the sources said.

Meanwhile, the matter is also being taken up by Indian Ambassador in Ireland with the Irish government.

Halappanavar, 31, died in Ireland due to blood poisoning after doctors allegedly refused to terminate her 17-week-long pregnancy, telling her that "this is a Catholic country".

Savita's husband Praveen Halappanavar, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, told the Irish media that his wife had asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated.

This was refused, he said, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told "this is a Catholic country".
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Journalist & Filmmaker donated INR 85 Lakhs property and INR 7.63 Lakhs cash

-Bhadas4media:
Journalist - Filmmaker RAJESH JHA donated  INR 85 Lakhs property and INR 7.63 Lakhs in cash for Community Health Center & Old Age Home to Government of Bihar. Both institutes will be on name of his parents MALATI & BRAHMANAND JHA and functioning will be governed by Malati Brahmanand Jha Foundation a family trust registered under Charitable Society Act.

Rajesh donated his 2 story house for MALATI BRAHMANAND JHA COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER ,MANDARHILL , BHAGALPUR which will start functioning from 14th January 2013 with 25 ( extandable to 30 ) beds. He is constructing a 26 rooms Old Age Home called MALATI BRAHMANAND JHA VRUDHASHRAM where 50 old poor and helpless people will stay till death. Their living cost will be bore by MALATI BRAHMANAND JHA FOUNDATION and for this purpose it has given 15 aces agricultural land of Adra- Sukhaniya river bank to the Old Age Home. Agricultural produces from that land can easily meet expenses of old age home.

Rajesh owns properties in Manda (UP),Sivari ( W.Bangal ) and Nepal also where he is planning extension of this Foundation's activities. He told till 2017 he and his family will work to make first unit financially independent then Foundation will expand her activities in U.P., Bangal & Nepal respectively. Rajesh's forefathers were Raj Purohits of King of TRIPURA & NEPAL and all donated properties were given to them as dakshina. Now all these properties are turned Non-Performing assets to Malati Brahmanand Jha family so they have decided  give it back to the service of society.
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

India TV channel's engineer & freelance journalist allegedly trying to extort money from a Unani doctor


-TheIndianExpress:
New Delhi: The three had allegedly filmed a Unani doctor giving allopathic medicines to a patient. They demanded Rs 5 lakh from him, police said Police arrested two computer engineers of India TV news channel and a freelance reporter on Friday night for allegedly trying to extort money from a Unani doctor.

The three had allegedly filmed the doctor giving allopathic medicines to a patient. This happened a day after a city court directed police to record the statement of a south Delhi auto garage owner who had accused the head of an NGO and a reporter each from India TV and ABP News for allegedly attempting to extort Rs 20 lakh by threatening to air an alleged sex tape on the channels.

Police on Saturday said Sachin Mishra (35), IT manager with India TV, Saurabh Tripathi (22), a system administrator with the same channel, and freelance reporter Himanshu Tripathi (30) were arrested following the doctor’s complaint.

India TV said Mishra and Saurabh Tripathi were not from the channel’s editorial team, and Himanshu Tripathi was not associated with the channel.

“The main accused claiming to be the reporter in this case is not an employee of India TV, nor is he in any way connected with us. The other two named in the FIR are not journalists and are not related to the editorial department. They work in our computer section. We have suspended them with immediate effect. We have instituted an internal inquiry. There is certainly no place in the organisation for such people,” Puneet Tandon, general manager (administration and human resource) of India TV, said.

Police said Unani doctor Mahesh Kumar Gumbadh visited Mandawli police station on November 9 and complained that he was being blackmailed by mediapersons who claimed to have made a video of him giving allopathic medicines to a patient.

“They demanded Rs 5 lakh. On November 9, a trap was set and the mediapersons were called to a hospital in Mayur Vihar. They were told that they would be paid Rs 1.5 lakh for a pen drive containing the clip. Our team caught Saurabh Tripathi when he reached there to collect the money. He helped us locate the other two,” DCP (East) Prabhakar said in a statement.
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Friday, November 9, 2012

TV reporters Bhumika Sharma of India TV & Pradeep Srivastava of ABP News accused of sting and blackmail: ‘Rs 20 lakh or we air sex tape’

Pradeep Srivastava, senior reporter ABP News and
Bhumika Sharma, reporter India Tv. (Source: Facebook) 
-Theindianexpress:
New Delhi: The owner of a garage in south Delhi has accused two television journalists and the head of an NGO of trying to extort Rs 20 lakh from him after having secretly filmed him with women who he says were prostitutes.

A city court Thursday directed the police to record the complainant’s statement and seize the recording of a purported conversation he had with the alleged blackmailers.

The journalists — Bhumika Sharma, a correspondent with India TV, and Pradeep Srivastava, a senior special correspondent with ABP News — have been suspended, the two news organisations said late on Thursday night.

A statement issued by Delhi Police named the complainant as Vijay Kumar, a 53-year-old “car mechanic who runs a shop in the name of Motor craft in Vasant Vihar”.

Kumar, the statement said, had complained that “one Manu Sharma... who runs an NGO in the name of People’s Foundation, has provided girls for sexual intercourse at his address at Satya Niketan and prepared video clips with the help of two brothers Hunny and Sunny (both of whom are in the business of property dealing)”.

“They are threatening to extort Rs 20 lakh by putting him in fear of implicating him in a false case of rape. One Ms Bhumika, an employee of India TV and Mr Pardeep working with ABP News also threatened the complainant to... settle the matter otherwise they said they would telecast the recording on TV,” the statement said.

Police sources said Kumar had recorded his phone conversation with the accused, in the course of which they had allegedly tried to blackmail him. The CD containing the purported conversation would be sent for forensic examination, the sources said. They said police were investigating the possible involvement of a third journalist in the case.

Reached for a comment, Vinod Kapri, managing editor of India TV, said, “We are investigating the case. Pending the inquiry, we have suspended her (Bhumika) with immediate effect. India TV has a zero-tolerance policy on such issues.”

ABP News group editor Shazi Zaman said the organisation had started an internal inquiry. “Pending the inquiry report, the journalist’s contract has been discontinued with immediate effect. We are also seeking more information from the police,” he said.
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