Posts Tagged ‘Bajrang Dal’

Bajrang Dal singles out NDTV for pub coverage

26 January 2009

Mangalore, on India’s west coast, has seen individual and institutional freedoms being transgressed since the BJP government took over in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

A legislator’s wife disappeared and committed suicide under a hail of speculation. Churches, convents, and prayer halls have been attacked. Buses carrying students of a co-education college have been attacked because girls and boys of different religions were travelling together. Newspaper editors have been arrested, handcuffed and jailed; newspaper publishers and directors have been sued.

As if all that infamy wasn’t enough, hoodlums of the Sri Ram Sena on Saturday barged into a pub at 4 pm claiming that “unethical activities” were taking place inside, and then slapped and kicked girls, and assaulted the men who were with them. The Sri Ram Sena has claimed responsibility for the act. Its convenor Prasad Attavar told The Hindu that it was a “spontaneous reaction against women who flouted traditional Indian norms of decency”. He said these women were Hindus who “dared to get close to Muslim men.”

But in a sign of competitive communalism, the Bajrang Dal has also claimed responsibility for the incident, according to this report and this report and this report and the video above.

Yet, a lawyer claiming to represent the Bajrang Dal has singled out New Delhi Television (NDTV) and issued a legal notice for mentioning the Bajrang Dal by name. The notice has been issued from faraway Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat, and the notice mentions the anchor (Naghma) and the reporter (Nihal Kidwai) by name.

Below is the full unedited, unexpurgated text of the legal notice.

***

Advocate Dipak Shukla, Advocate Gujarat High Court, A-3, Swagat Apt, Bodakdev, Ahmedabad- 380054, Tel 079-26851171

ATTENTION: ALL PUBLIC & PRIVATE COMMUNICATORS

Subject: NDTV Hindi reports mentioning Bajrang Dal name in Mangalore Pub attack (Report dated January 25, 2009 at 5pm, report filed by one Mr. Nihal from Karnataka & the Newsreader mentioning Bajrang Dal name was Ms. Nagma)

This is to bring to the notice of all concerned that:

1. My client Bajrang Dal firmly denies any involvement related to the said attack on a Mangalore Pub or Sriram Sena or any of their affiliated or non-affiliated people whatsoever or whosoever & any of their activities whatsoever.

2. Any attempt by any electronic media, print media, any public or private communicators, any government or private agency or anyone whosoever to spread the above or any such malafide, false, derogatory & criminally defamatory lies about my client will attract civil & criminal legal action as deemed fit.

3. Any damage to my client’s public & social image, standing as well as any Bajrang Dal member’s family’s social standing or businesses will be the sole liability of anyone who tries to spread the above malafide rumour. The financial compensation & the criminal as well as a civil legal action will be applicable to all who indulge into such politically motivated malafide criminal rumour mongering about my client.

4. Any political party or any person in any political party is found to be publicly or privately indulging in spreading the above natured malafide lies about my client will also attract suitable civil & criminal legal action as deemed fit & also will be liable to compensate the damages caused to my client organisation, its members’ family & family’s businesses due to the above criminally malafide activities of such rumour mongers in the above-said issue.

END OF THE ABOVE-SAID DOCUMENT. ANY ADDITION OF DELETION IN THE ABOVE DOCUMENT WILL ATTRACT SUITABLE LEGAL ACTION.

Indian media is large & vibrant, but how free is it?

11 January 2009

KPN photo

BHAMY V. SHENOY writes from Houston, Texas: Every newspaper reader in India should be shocked at the way B. V. Seetharam, the publisher and editor of the Kannada daily Karavali Ale, is being repeatedly harassed by a democratically elected  government in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

According to this version, Seetharam was arrested last week in a defamation case filed by Bhoja Shetty, a resident of Udupi district, in July 2007. Shetty alleged that Seetharam tried to “blackmail” him for a financial consideration of Rs 1 lakh [approximately $2,000]. When that did not come, the editor reportedly portrayed him as a “rapist” in his newspaper, resulting in the defamation charge.

The charge is certainly serious, doesn’t show journalism in good light, and deserves to be taken to its logical conclusion.

But it is the backdrop of Seetharam’s arrest (a few months after the BJP came to power in Karnataka); the timing of the arrest (after he had accused Hindutva forces of attacking his newspaper for publishing); and the manner in which he has been handcuffed and chained like a common criminal, and taken from city to city (he is currently lodged in the Mysore jail), that should make the world sit up and take notice.

We assume, wrongly, that India has a free and vibrant press with unbridled freedom.

We assume, again wrongly, that India’s newspapers have the full and unfettered freedom to expose individual or institutional malfeasance, in politics, business and other spheres of public life.

In the event the press fails to expose the corrupt practices of politicians or businessmen—like, say, the gigantic Rs 7,000 fraud of Satyam Computer Services—we think it is only because the press is not using its freedom and does not have the courage to stand against the big government or deep pocketed companies.

That is largely true, of course, but B.V. Seetharam’s plight shows that is not necessarily the full story in the minefield that is Indian democracy.

The truth is there are plenty of people who do not want negative stories to come out, and are willing to go any distance and adopt any means to ensure that. And there are plenty of people, inside and outside the corridors of power, who are willing to help them in that endeavour.

B.V. Seetharam’s case is an example.

While we may question Seetharam’s methods and targets based on our individual preferences and prejudices, it must be admitted that he also published articles exposing the wrong doings of corrupt politicians, incompetent bureaucrats, and dishonest businessmen, among others. More recently, he has turned his eyes on the growing communalism on the west coast.

What we are witnessing through his arrest is that in a surcharged milieu, this can be a lonely battle—and very, very messy.

In a political system where the use of extra-constitutional muscle power seems to sit comfortably well with rule-based democracy, an editor like him is bound to have enemies. Such individuals are harassed by the establishment to send a strong signal to others not to follow his example.

Seetharam’s victimisation is a sign of that.

This is not the first time Seetharam has been punished by taking him into custody. Many may recall the way he was whisked away to jail along with his wife in the middle of the night for publishing a story questioning the propriety of Jain monks to walk around naked in public in 2007.

While the solidarity shown by the press to Seetharam’s harsh treatment should be admired, we, the public, should wonder why only one section of society has expressed disgust at the treatment meted out to him. What is involved is the freedom of the press to boldly publish the news without fear and favour. Without such freedom, democracy will lose out as it has been happening in India.

Every citizen irrespective of his/ her ideology should condemn the treatment doled out to B.V. Seetharam.

Photograph: Journalists take part in a protest against the arrest of B.V. Seetharam in Bangalore on Wednesday. (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind’

Mangalore editor held for ‘inciting’ hate

Pseudonymous author spells finis to Mint editor?

‘Media’s double standards to measure terrorism’

17 September 2008

The “Eye for an Eye” email sent out by the “Indian Mujahideen” before the Delhi blasts on Saturday, while using the “injustice and oppression inflicted upon Muslims all over the country” as a justification for the attack, also targets the Indian English print media in particular:

“The coverage of news by both the electronic as well as print media clearly depicts the level to which their immorality has reached while obeying their loyal masters of IB [Intelligence Burau]. But let us clarify here that you forgot your own principle: that sometimes the stories untold serve the purpose more than the stories told. Look at the way you handled the blasts in which Sangh activists have been involved.

“With the Will of Allah, the Most Sublime, both the Bajrang Dal activisits were killed and sentenced to Hell fire while they were engaged in bomb making—an art which needs extraordinary intelligence—at Kanpur, and this was rightly reported by the Indian Express mentioning that the police was astonished to see the quantity of bombs found. The ‘apes’ of Bajrang Dal were too foolish to plot a revenge blast in Kanpur on 24th Aug. 2008 against the Muslims.

“The blast which occrred on 24th August hardly found even a single column space in The Times of India the next day. Hindustan Times carried the news, but without mentioning the identity of the wretchd ones who were killed. The only information it delivered was tht the father of Piyush Mishra, one among the dead, was running a private hostel in the locality! On 26th August, the Indian Express and Mail Today mentioned the news in some detail (heading: “The Bajrang Bomb?”—Indian Express). There were hardly any follow-up stories in Times of India. Stories of Omprakash alias Bunty, a gang leader who was gunned down by the police was the topic Times of India gave to its readers the next day. Times spent more than a page for Bunty the gang leader. On the following days, there was an extensive coverage of police cracking down the Jaipur blast mystery, ‘investigative’ stories on Shahbaz Hussain, the ‘computer savy’ master mind (yet another forged lie) alleged to be behind the serial blasts. But a dreadful silence was kept about the origin of bombs dug out from the camp of Sangh Parivar all along. A great number of human rights activists and organisations demanded an immediate probe to investigate the explosive agenda hidden by Sangh Parivar. The statements issued and press conferences conducted in this regard were limited to single columns in the national newspapers….

“The coverage of the Sangh Parivar violence in Orissa, by the mainstream media reveals the bad character of the Indian press. After the very first day of violence… Times of India didn’t find it worthy enough to mention it in the front page! After 26th of August, the Times reader can hardly find news from Orissa, unless he dives into the inner pages. Times of India has written an editorial demanding to put an end to violence against Christians in Orissa. From the day enxt, the newspaper runs as if it had complete its duty and has better things to do!

“Look at the effort the Times News Network takes to endorse the VHP argument that Lakshminanda Saraswati was kileld not by the Maoists but by the Christian missionaries (heading: Maoists didn’t kill VHP leader—The Times of India, 31st August). On the other hand, the Orissa violence made a clear appearance in other newspapers like The Hindu, Indian Express, and Hindustan Times. They have given extensive coverage to the pight of hundreds of Christians, who were forced to run. Why is it that the Sangh parivar violence is never dealt with in the same intensity as ‘Islamic Terror’ is treated?

“The media always uses double standards to measure terrorism. The word ‘terrorism’ is never used when a story on Sangh violence is told, no matter how large scale the violence is. The violence unleashed by the Sangh Parivar in Gujarat was defined only as “expression of communalism” and the same is the case with what happens in Orissa at present. At this moment we ask you as to why the ‘Sangh terror’ on all the minorities including the Muslims, Dalits and Christians is a rarely noticed idea?”

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