Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Karnataka Police's attempt to intimidate media

Shahina K.K, journalist, Tehelka  has been facing harassment and intimidation from the Karnataka Police for last few weeks. A case has been registered against her at the Somawarpet Police Station (No. 199/10) and Siddhapura Police Station (No. 241/10) under Section 506 for allegedly intimidating witnesses
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Tehelka had carried in a recent issue Shahina’s report based on interviews with two witnesses in the 2008 Bengaluru blast case. The report titled 'Why is this man still in prison? 'has raised questions over the police investigation and the arrest of People’s Democratic Party chairman Abdul Nasar Mahdani in the blast case.

Intimidation of Shahina started as soon as she reached Igoor in Karnataka's Hassan District.Here is an excerpt from her report.

ON THE morning of 16 November, I reached Igoor in Karnataka’s Hassan district, along with two translators and met KK Yoganand, one of the witnesses in the 2008 Bengaluru blasts case and a few BJP workers, including the vice-president of the panchayat. They all disclosed that, contrary to the police chargesheet, they had not seen Abdul Nasar Madani in the area.
While on our way from Hosathotta to a secret location where we had planned to meet Rafeeq, another witness, we were stopped by the police. The Circle Inspector of Hosathotta police station, despite being told that we were from the media, warned us that we are not allowed “to do such things here”.
A police vehicle tailed us for a while en route to Madikeri to ensure that we had left. After an hour, we changed vehicles and kept our appointment with Rafeeq.
On our way back, at 9.30 pm, I received a call from the Circle Inspector. The question was simple: “Are you a terrorist?” I did not know whether to laugh or cry. He then explained that the villagers were scared and suspected that we were terrorists. He wanted to confirm my identity by talking to my editor.
The next day, three Kannada newspapers — Sakthi, Prajavani and Kannada Prabha— carried a story about a “suspicious” visit by a “group of Muslims” to the place. The newspapers said that police are not sure about the identity of the woman, though she had showed a TEHELKA identity card!

Soon 2 cases were registered against the journalist.

There has been wide spread condemnation from Journalists Associations and Civil Rights activists against this move of Karnataka Police to harass journalists.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has strongly condemned the criminal proceedings launched against Tehelka reporter K.K. Shahina by the Karnataka police
“The IFJ is shocked that this fine example of investigative journalism has become the grounds for criminal prosecution of a reporter, on charges of pressuring and intimidating witnesses”, IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

As working journalists, we are gravely concerned about what appears to be a clamp down on journalists doing their duty to investigate events and issues in their attempt to uncover the truth and keep the public informed. We believe the false charges framed against Shahina KK is an attempt to silence the press and to dissuade the media from delving into such matters. The trumped up charges against Shahina KK appear to be yet another instance of social profiling based on religious identity that has become all too common in recent years. We think it is imperative to uphold the right and duty of journalists to probe issues relating to human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minority communities who are accused of criminal acts, in the public interest.
By slapping charges of criminal intimidation (which carries a seven-year jail term as punishment) against a journalist the Karnataka Police has attacked the very basis of the freedom of expression, which is vital for the functioning of democracy. .
The Network of Women in Media, India,

This, we feel, is a clear case of infringement of journalistic freedom by the Karnataka police. Howsoever serious a case might be, the media has always had the freedom in this country to meet witnesses and even the prime accused to hear their versions and place them before society. It is this freedom, among many others, that has given our democracy the vibrancy that it has today. By registering a case for criminal intimidation against a journalist, the Karnataka police has cut at the very root of democratic and media freedoms in our country
Senior Journalists from Kerala

The case is not against her as an individual but it is a warning to the entire press community, women and minorities. We strongly condemn the attitude of the police to frame false charges on a reputed journalist in a nationally reputed magazine. We are aware that if the police can go to that extent, what the status of ordinary members of the minority community could be. We also condemn the tradition of some of the members of the press to repeat the false information of the police, which has very deep communal implications. We are shocked at the growing human rights violations in the name of tackling terrorism. Above all, the problems faced by Shahina is also a grave threat to freedom of expression and the incidents also warn us about the fascistic designs of the Sangh Parivar controlled Karnataka Government
Civil Rights Groups


It seems the case against Madani is flimsy and Police is aware of that. That may be the reason for  the need for intimidating the journalist who is fearlessly exposing the flimsiness of the case.

Let us hope that all this adverse publicity generated by this incident will prevent further Police intimidation of the media.

 Links
Why is this man still in prison? Shahina's article
Women in media Statement
Civil Rights Group statement

19 comments:

  1. I have no comment on this article, but would like to put the record straight - Do you call yourself a secular liberal blogger unattached to any political party?
    I was wondering (not really, I know it) why you chose to blog about a news report against "Sangh Parivar controlled Karnataka Government" when there are tons of front page news corruption around you. And what about Cong. G. Sec Digvijay's comments on Karkare and the flip-flops the party does on this issue? And what about Chidu's remark on Delhi's migrants? Are these attempts to 'intimidate' someone? It hurts to write against the cong. party, huh?

    You claim this blog is about "An attempt to analyse things happening around me". What TV channel are you watching man, you seem to know only a carefully selected few things happening around you...

    Funny side note - You managed to write something against RSS in a blog on Onam - that was totally unnecessary. If cong. party sees your blog, they will invite you to CWC - blaming sangh parivar for anything & everything :-)

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  2. Your blogs are lengthy but good ones.. Good to know as a doc you are tuned into issues which are different and sensitive

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  3. If the case is flimsy why is there a need for cover-up? wont the truth be out ultimately?

    Raising false charges against a jounalist is indeed deplorable and I am glad that people have protested but in this age of paid news and shoddy journalism I dont know whom to blv.

    While I defintely blame Madani for turning many a youth in Kerala towards terrorism (a place which has no excuse for the same), like many others in Kerala , I do want to know the truth behind those Malayali youths who died in Kashmir.

    Let the court prove that Madani is really in a repentant mood at present.

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  4. Abhilash, Thank you for your continued interest in my blog.It is unfortunate that you do not want to comment on the subject matter of this blog post.Can I ask you why?


    I do not call myself anything other than a blogger. Labels are bothersome.
    It does not hurt me to read/write bad about Congress or any other political party.Does it hurt you when some thing bad is written about Sangh Parivar? Sorry if I hurt you.

    My blog posts are based not on TV channels or newspaper headlines but on my own whims and fancies.So you may not find all news and opinions here.
    May be you can say that I am more bothered about false cases being slapped on innocents than about corrupt politicians of all shades going unpunished.

    Why RSS in Kerala is reluctant to celebrate Kerala's own Onam while it is over eager to celebrate Ganesh festival[which was till recently unheard of in Kerala] always made me curious of their aims.

    Once again thank you for your comment.Looking forward to more from you

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  5. Seema, Yes the posts lengthy but mostly a copy and paste affair as I am short of time.Will try to cut down the length. Being a doctor I am not only bothered about the health of individual patient but of the society as a whole.That is why such posts.

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  6. Happy Kitten,
    My feeling from the very beginning was that the current case against Madani was an after thought of Karnataka Police. That feeling is strengthened by Shahina'a report.
    Let the Courts decide but I feel he should be granted bail as soon as possible.

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  7. I am hurt to see such a supposedly highly-educated individual talk with such bad logic. Not because you or any of the secular bloggers write against sangh parivar. The point is people who waste no time to write about sangh parivar go missing when they have to write about other parties. Oh yeah, you can have your own whims & fancies, but you can't blame me if I expect better "whims & fancies" from a doctor, no less.

    IHM ( regular commetator here) had once put a comment and I quote "And the same people who believe Modi is exonerated because Teesta exaggerated, also try to say that Congress can never be pardoned for the 1984 riots. The double standards are disappointing.

    They ignore the fact that Congress never talked of declaring Sajjan Kumar or Tytler their Prime Ministerial candidate."
    SUCH.A.MORON. (Now, ask me what is wrong with that comment)
    'Secular' people don't realize how stupid their arguments get. Like your response to one of my previous comments - you oppose hindutva forces because YOU THINK hinduism is a better religion than others. When you go to the internet with your thoughts, try to come up with better arguments. I am hurt by people who regulary do this & still claim to be secular - Not good for the future of the nation if this is the definition of secularism.

    I personally am not hurt by comments on sangh parivar. In fact, I don't respond to bloggers who write against sangh parivar AND other extremists. You certainly don't belong there.

    And about RSS not celebrating onam, where did you get that from, did you read RSS manifesto? the RSS unit near my house does organize events for Onam, of course they are more visible during other festivals. But going by your logic, you can see CPM celebrating May day with much more vigor than independence day. So what is your inference? CPM is a bunch of anti-national thugs? Nobody can help if you see what you want to see.

    Hey question for you - If a patient with multiple diseases comes to see you and you treat only one disease and tell the patient that you solve only one problem according to your 'whims & fancies', Is it the right thing to do?

    I was certainly not expecting you shying away from a label - esp from a person who has no qualms in labeling some blogs as saffron blogs. You can't have it both ways - I label your blog as a pseudo secular intellectual liberal blog.

    And I am still not commenting on this article - why should a statement on one journalist mention about threat to "status of ordinary members of the minority community"? The articles have bias written all over it. Although I must admit you can't expect much different from 'secular' people like you.

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  8. Abhilash,
    I am honoured that you expect much better posts from me. Will try to meet your expectations.

    About IHM comment: I have to ask you what you meant because I thought her argument was very valid.

    Let us see the basic difference between RSS/BJP and Congress. BJP is ideologically communal while Congress is opportunistically communal. Thus BJP utilises Hindu religion to attain power. Congress on the other hand opportunistically uses communal feelings of all religions and also acts as a secular party when the need arises.As Congress garner votes from all religions they cannot push into fore front their communal elements. So Sajan Kumar and co always keeps to the background. As BJP is based on communal ideology it cannot hide its communal agenda.If they do that they will loose vote. Without Hindu communalism BJP is equivalent to Congress.
    Did I ever say Hinduism is a better religion than others? You are putting words into my mouth.What I said was
    "Historically Semitic religions [Christianity/Islam] are well known for targeting free thinkers, but not Indian [Hindu] culture. But with the arrival of Hindutva revivalists Hinduism is being turned into another Semitic religion. That is a great tragedy. That is why Indian secular voices are raised more against Hindutva forces."

    I only said that free thinkers were better off in India than in Christian Europe and Islamic Arabia. Just one aspect. When you think about the caste system how can one say Hinduism is better?
    So I feel our 'stupid' comments make lot of sense to most people if they think logically.

    RSS's cultural nationalism, I feel, is against the cultural diversities of India.They may be aiming to project Nagpur Brahminism as the culture of entire India. This will be a great loss to Indian[Hindu] culture.Both RSS and CPM have specefic agenda in celebrating Ganesh Utsav and May Day respectively.Only difference is CPM says it openly while RSS as always hides behind a mask.
    Thank you for the label you have given me.It is always better for the reader to label a writer than for a writer to label himself.

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  9. "Historically Semitic religions [Christianity/Islam] are well known for targeting free thinkers, but not Indian [Hindu] culture. But with the arrival of Hindutva revivalists Hinduism is being turned into another Semitic religion. That is a great tragedy. That is why Indian secular voices are raised more against Hindutva forces."

    Loved this statement..

    The day Hinduism behaves like Chritianity or Islam, it shall lose it's essense and beauty... but then I think BJP and even RSS has finally realized this truth...

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  10. Happy Kitten,
    Have they realised the truth? I am not sure because if they try not to make Hinduism a semetic religion their ability to mobilize people in the name of religion will be severely curtailed.

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  11. Well, it is better for this nation to be united than divided and if the Hindus are going to be united ,then let it be so.. It is better than seeing this nation going to the dogs.

    As a member of the minority and after seeing where the nation is headed, I rather trust them than those who pretend to unite but who are actually dividing this nation. If BJP and RSS have not learnt their lessons then let me believe that those in majority (with a true sense of Indian culture) shall bring them down for sure.

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  12. Happy Kitten,
    Sangh Parivar is the strongest divisive force present in India.Implementation of their Cultural Nationalism will mean the death of real Indian/Hindu culture and birth of a rigid,backward looking and elitist majoritanism.That will result in be a big tragedy.A member of the minority community may not realise the dangers such forces can cause to the Indian/Hindu society.

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  13. About IHM comment: very valid??? Are you serious? Modi's equivalent in 1984 riots is Rajiv Gandhi and he was conferred the highest civilian award of India. You guys seems to exonerate congress just because Kamalnath was not made prime minister. How did Rajiv Gandhi come clean? At that time, Delhi was administered only by the central government with prime minister having a huge say in the law & order of the riot hit areas.


    >> BJP is ideologically communal while Congress is opportunistically communal.
    What are you trying to say here? Does that make any party better than the other? Seriously, some of the arguments are just beyond me.

    And about you 'implying' Hinduism is a better religion, for the points we were arguing, you do imply Hinduism is better than other religion. We were not talking about caste system. I could see that you are not giving a blanket approval for Hinduism, but the gist of your arguments seem to me that you see Hinduism a better religion for a freely thinking society, other religions are not and THAT is the reason why you are so strongly opposing hindu fundamentalist and tread softly on other fundamentalists. If most people are thinking 'logically' like this, we are in trouble. How can one fundamentalism be worse than another fundamentalism to warrant being "raised more against"?

    RSS hides behind a mask and CPM does not - wow! I don't know how to respond to that. I would support even the Congress despite the issues that I disagree with them, but the Communists, no chance.

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  14. Abhilash,
    Is Rajiv Gandhi's role in Delhi riots of 1984 equivalent to that of Modi's role in 2002 Gujarat riots?
    I do not think so. Modi's role can be said to be equivalent to that of some local Congress leaders. BJP and Congress are both guilty for the riots. But Congress was anti-Sikh only for few days but BJP/RSS is anti-Muslim throughout its existence.That is a big difference.

    Majority fundamentalism is more dangerous.So in India I fear Hindu fundamentalism more.But both are two sides of the same coin.

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  15. Shocking. I am glad you blogged about this, I had missed this news entirely. And I hope this does not become a trend.

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  16. IHM, There was strong response frm media ppl in Kerala as she was a popular news reporter in a Malayalam news channel.Hope this will not be the trend

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  17. Oh yeah? If Modi's role is equivalent of local cong leaders, where is the chargesheet and court case like the ones local cong leaders had to endure?
    Modi's role is what people accuse him of, may be rightly so. Similarly Rajeev Gandhi's role is also what people accuse him of - unless you are leaning towards 10, Janpath, there is no difference.

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  18. Abhilash, unfortunately we can't expect Modi's police to charge sheet Modi. Even Modi's Home minister is with in bars now for aranging killings thanks to Supreme Court. Soon if the Centre and Supreme Court is strong enough we will see a charge sheet against Modi.

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  19. That applies to Rajiv Gandhi too...

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Comments are welcome especially if you do not think like me. But anonymous comments behind masks and those not relevant to the post are not encouraged.