FRONTLINE (March 22 ) carries a long article concerning “the frequent use of interim injunctions to curb free speech on the Internet”. A commentator in the journal referred to a “move that has been decried by a large section of activists, lawyers and the media” made by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) on February 14 in issuing instructions to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to 78 URLs (Uniform Source Locators or web Addresses) from India of which 73 have content allegedly defamatory to The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), an educational institution.
The DoT’s order covers URLs of news portals that contained reports relating to IIPMs published in Outlook, Careers 360, The Times of India, First Post, Rediff and other on-line publications. According to Sagnik Dutta, “this case of blocking content, follows the traditions of secret censorship used by the government in recent years to clamp down on dissent in the domain of the Internet.” Dutta has also pointed out that “there have been instances of blocking content on the Internet that have led to large-scale clampdowns even on innocuous content” and “this trend is accentuated by the use of the instrument of defamation to threaten and intimidate people expressing dissent”. We do not know what exactly has been said about the IIPM considering that the print media doesn’t seem to have reported what the Internet has. What prevents the print media from reproducing the content? If what is reported is truth, surely no one can use the instrument of defamation to punisher the publisher? Similar efforts at suppressing news in the print media calls for an explanation.
On February 19, 2013, an apparently well-organised and meticulously planned attack had been unleashed in different parts of Naliakhari area under Cannings PS in the southern Paraganas district of West Bengal.
According to the Organiser (March 3) “some 250 Hindu homes were looted, bombed and set on fire”. Hundreds of temples and idols were desecrated. Locals have been quoted as saying that some 250 to 300 houses were looted by Muslim mobs shouting Allah o Akbar in Dhoparmar, Herobhanga, Goladohora and Gopalpur area of Naliakhali. Says the Organiser report: “Headmaster of the Naliakhali High School, Abdul Salam Mollah openly instigated the Muslims to attack Hindus and their property. One Jamuna Naskar and her husband Paritosh said that inspite of repeated calls to the local police, no one turned up to protect them. Young National Cycling champion Km Chandan Mandal, who earlier participated in the National Games …. had her imported bicycle costing over Rs 1 lakh burnt with all her school, college certificates and other sports equipment worth another Rs 50,000”. It is a long report of police callousness. Towards the end says the report: “The most despicable aspect of all this is the total blackout of this barbaric and communal assault by the media, the media that doesn’t lose any opportunity to shed tears over Gujarat for decades now have been totally silent over this.”
Who stopped the spread of this news? The Headmaster Abdul Salam Mollah is reported to have addressed the Hindus as “kafirs who killed Kasab and Afzal”. Were news agencies told not to cover this particular story? What is just as shocking is an article written by chairman of the Press Council, Markandey Katju who has, of late, been indulging in personal attacks against Narendra Modi, without any factual evidence. Modi may ignore this ex-Supreme Court Judge’s comments on him, but it is time Katju is called to order and relieved of the prestigious job he holds. By his scurrilous writings, he is bringing disgrace to the world of the judiciary.
According to GVL Rao, Member, National Electoral Reforms Committee, writing in the Organiser (March 3), the chairman of The Press Council of India “has turned out to be the worst offender against its own norms and has no right to continue”.
Narendra Modi, of course, has his critics, including Hindustan Times which, in an editorial (March 10 ) said that “the proper way to undermine Modi” is to file a criminal case against him, though it simultaneously confesses that “the evidence is lacking” The paper said that “nothing helps Narendra Modi more than making him out to be a victim” and added that “the Wharton India Economic Forum, otherwise evolving as one of the best international meeting places to discuss India’s business prospects is possibly fatally damaged. It will be in for a tough time if Modi is successful in moving on to the national political stage”.
The point is that if anybody is to be blamed, it is the secular press in India which has done more damage to India than one can imagine. It has been vicious from the word ‘go’ and has done everything possible to damage Modi’s reputation. One suspects that depending largely on ‘secular’ reports in India, some of the NRI staff of University of Pennsylvania went all out to damn Modi.
Thus, writing in Outlook (March 18) one of those thoughtless NRI teachers, Suvir Kaul (AM Bonsenthal Professor of English) referred to “Modi’s role in mass killings” in 2002. “Mass killings?”. He obviously does not know what happened in Gujarat. Nobody talks about the fifty five odd innocent Hindu women and children who were choked to death in a railway carriage because of the fire caused to it by a Muslim mob.
Again, according to the Congress Union Minister of State for Home, Shriprakash Jaiswal in Parliament on May 11, 2005, in the 2002 riots 790 Muslims were killed as were 254 Hindus. Can one call it genocide? The entire police force of 70,000 was deployed in Gujarat on February 27. Some 126 people were killed in police firing of whom 77 were Hindus.
According to The Times of India, as on April 25, 2002, out of 1,40,000 refugees some 1 lakh were Muslims and 40,000 Hindus. According to India Today (May 20, 2002) far from being anti-Muslim the Gujarat Police did not act speedily against Muslim fanatics and rioters for fear of being called anti-Muslim. And let it be said fearlessly: more US presidents have acted against Human Rights in their time deserving condemnation. But who among the NRI’s would dare say that? All that one can say is shame, shame, NRI’s. You don’t deserve to be known as Indians.