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Archives for : September2017

#GauriLankeshMurder – “Hindu terror units killed Gauri Lankesh”

Her lawyer B T Venkatesh is clear that the killing was a sinister and pre-planned act by ‘Hindu terror units’, and not linked to the defamation cases against her.

A meeting to protest Gauri Lankesh’s murder at the Delhi Press Club on September 6.


Exactly three years and five days after the fatal shooting of writer M M Kalburgi, the dastardly killing of journalist and editor Gauri Lankesh yesterday is being seen as a clear indication that Hindutva forces are still at work, chillingly picking out the targets on their list of intellectuals and writers inimical to them.

While a number of theories have sprung up on the motives for the killing, including her conviction in a defamation case filed by Dharwad’s BJP MP, Prahlaad Joshi and a BJP leader Umesh Dushi in November 2016, her lawyer B T Venkatesh is clear that the killing was a sinister and pre-planned act by ‘Hindu terror units’.

“Let us say it loud and clear. Hindu terror units killed Gauri Lankesh. She opposed the RSS, the BJP and these hindutva forces and this killing is the silencing of that voice against hate politics. It had nothing to do with all the defamation cases filed against her”, said Adv Venkatesh.

Talking to The Hoot a day after the killing, he said Lankesh had umpteen number of cases across the state. “I have been defending her in a number of these cases. This case was a small one in Hubbali and we appealed within 30 days and the sentence was suspended”, he said.

This was a very systematically organized and planned assassination that was carried out in an identical manner to the killing of Prof Kalburgi, he said, adding that hindutva terror units had recruited people and organized sleeper cells to carry out their killings.

“Even Prof Kalburgi had something like 20 defamation cases against him before he was killed”


“They knew her routine – that she would put the paper to bed on Tuesday and on Wednesday, she would go to her farm. Yes, she did get threats but she has been getting threats since 2004, when she took up the Idgah Maidan case and opposed the withdrawal of Uma Bharti from the case (relating to violence in Hubli over the hoisting of the national flag in Idgah Maidan in 1994).

Adv Venkatesh added that conviction was also pretty common in a great many defamation cases and felt that it was inconsequential. “Anyone who tries to focus on the defamation cases as a possible motive for her killing must be joking. As a journalist, you should know that defamation cases are so common,” he said.

In fact, even Prof Kalburgi had something like 20 defamation cases against him and before he was killed, he had a conversation with Adv Venkatesh about how difficult it was to travel across the state to defend himself.

“Hindutva forces use every ploy, including the courts. They know that fighting multiple cases can be exhausting, with time taken away from other work to handle these cases. They have lawyers everywhere, at least five lawyers in every taluka who work for free. Whereas we don’t even have lawyers to fight our cases. They (right-wing forces) follow simple rules and have a one-point programme of hatred. But we are anarchic and have multiple discussions, we don’t have a common discourse and disagree on how to fight these forces,” he said.

Gauri Lankesh, who travelled across the length and breadth of Karnataka for her cases, turned the resultant harassment of court proceedings into an opportunity. “Every hearing used to be a chance for her to hold a meeting outside the court. She used it to the hilt, stating her views loud and clear. She wrote strongly and she spoke forcefully in English, in Kannada. Wherever there was communal violence against Muslims, against dalits or hatred being spread, she would go there.

Concurring with Venkatesh’s opinion, her friend and colleague Shiv Sundar told The Hoot that Gauri had at least 15 defamation cases going on.  This killing was part of the targeted violence that right-wing forces had unleashed all over Karnataka, especially in coastal Karnataka, he felt.

“Every hearing used to be a chance for her to hold a meeting outside the court. She used it to the hilt, stating her views loud and clear”


While Gauri Lankesh had been facing threats for her outspoken views for several years now, the immediate trigger for the killing was definitely the racheting up of an already communally vitiated atmosphere after the visit of BJP President Amit Shah in Karnataka last month, he felt. On Sept 5, the BJP persisted with holding a Mangaluru Chalo rally despite the state government’s refusal of permission to it.

Gauri Lankesh had been a strident critic of the bike rally, fearing an escalation in violence in the coastal areas of the state. As it is, the BJP is preparing for elections in Karnataka and the instances of communal violence had seen a marked increased over the last two years. Her newspaper had documented the killings.

Another possible trigger was that she spoke and wrote extensively on the Basavanna tradition of anti-casteism, rationality and secularism. She was critical when prominent members of the community had shifted allegiance to the BJP. She faced threats but she was impetuous and would not be cowed down, Shivsundar said, adding that close friends had asked her to be cautious and mute her views but that was simply not in her nature.

Asked if her work on the surrender and rehabilitation of Maoists and whether there was a ‘naxalite’ angle to the killing, as alleged by a prominent English language television channel, Adv Venkatesh felt that such conjectures only served to destabilize the investigation. We need to state this loud and clear: it is the work of hindutva terror units. Gauri knew this. She never spoke any other language,” he reiterated.


Hindutva terror in Karnataka

In 2015, after the killing of Prof Kalburgi, Gauri Lankesh spoke to this writer about the ‘hit list’ of those rationalists who were seen as a threat by hindutva forces. She said:

“We’ve made a list based on how many times the Hindutva groups spew venom on us and how strongly”, she says. First on the list is writer and rationalist K.S. Bhagwan, then writer Yogesh Master who has been attacked for his fictional work, and then another writer, Banjagere Jayaprakash.

Gauri Lankesh had then said that she was fourth on the list.

While Hndutva terror groups operate in every part of the country, they have managed to grow strong roots in Karnataka, especially coastal Karnataka. Gauri Lankesh travelled extensively in Mangalore,  infamous as Hindutva’s laboratory. The anti-communal front she had formed along with others, the Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedikehad grown into a major force, Venkatesh said, adding that Gauri Lankesh was an institution by herself. “Otherwise, they would not have targeted her.” She went on the offensive, was very vocal and could reach people. She spoke and wrote in Kannada and English and she had the legacy of her father, one of the finest journalists of Karnataka, he said.

She received a lot of hate mail and had been threatened a number of times, said Adv Venkatesh, adding that the statement of Bengaluru’s police commissioner T Suneel Kumar was not entirely correct. She did not seek police protection, that was not her nature, Adv Venkatesh said. She firmly believed that she lived in a free country and that she had a Constitutional right to speak freely and a Constitutional guarantee that her life was precious and would be protected.

It is this confidence she had in a Constitutional pledge for all citizens of India that the State is today called upon to uphold.


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Jaggi Vasudev’s #RallyforRivers Campaign – Why tree planting is not the answer’

: Experts question Jaggi’s ‘shallow’ Rally for Rivers

This ‘campaign’, that has flooded our timelines with celebrities garbed in blue, aims to tackle the urgent matter of the nation’s dying rivers.

#RallyforRivers, an ambitious campaign that has flooded our timelines with celebrities garbed in blue, aims to tackle the urgent matter of the nation’s dying rivers. Organised by the Isha foundation, it has seen the support of Bollywood and Kollywood actors, cricketers and even Union environment, forest and climate change minister Harsh Vardhan Singh.

Jaggi Vasudev with Virender Sehwag at a “Rally for Rivers” campaign in Coimbatore on Sunday. PTI Photo. 

The star of the campaign however remains one man – Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. The spiritual guru, in order to mobilise support for the ‘rejuvenation of rivers’ is set to ride 7,000 km from Kanyakumari and cover 16 states. The rally was flagged off on September 3 and will culminate in Delhi on October 2.

How exactly are we going to save rivers?

Jaggi Vasudev has a one stop solution to ensure that India’s rivers are restored to their original glory.

First, to his credit, he identifies that there is a major problem in our hands.

‘India’s rivers are undergoing a drastic change. Due to the pressures of population and development, our perennial rivers are becoming seasonal. Many of the smaller rivers have already vanished. Flood as well as drought are becoming increasingly frequent, as rivers turn unruly during the monsoon, and vanish once the rainy season is over,’ reads the website dedicated to this campaign.

Next, we are shown some stark facts regarding what the future holds.

Third, he points out rightly, how the depletion of rivers will affect the common man. This includes inflates prices for drinking water, increasing crop failure and drought.

While, the narrative is backed by numbers so far, things go awry from this point on.

The one stop solution

The campaign says, ‘The simplest solution to rejuvenate India’s rivers is to maintain a minimum of one kilometer tree cover on riversides.’

‘Forest trees can be planted on government land and fruit trees on farm land. This will ensure our rivers are fed throughout the year by the moist soil. This will also reduce floods, drought and soil loss, and increase farmers’ incomes,’ it explains.

Thus the spiritual guru, wants the government to plant a substantial number of trees for at least one kilometre width along the riversides. This, he points out will have vast environmental, social and economic benefits for nation and society.

The way to facilitate the execution of this method, involves leaving missed calls on the number 80009 80009. The number of calls, will then be used to display the enormity of support.

‘Plant trees’ solution

Many environmentalists have however questioned the ‘cure’, and say that the campaign has failed to identify the disease or its cause.

The bone of contention begins with the proposed solution to the problem of India’s dying rivers.

Nityanand Jayaraman, a noted environmentalist, argues that, “Tree planting is over-hyped as an environmental good. If rivers are to be revived, it is not just trees that do the most good, but grasses, shrubs, aquatic vegetation, and hardy floodplain plants that can withstand and even thrive in intense flooding.”

The Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), for instance, opines that that while the campaign has brought the dialogue of river conservation to the fore front, the science to back it is missing.

What ATREE is referring to here, is the sweeping assumption that trees can ‘Keep rivers perennial, Normalize rainfall, Combat climate change, Prevent soil erosion, Improve water quality, Enhance soil quality’.

“The arguments, though not incorrect, are incomplete, as the major causes behind the dying rivers lie elsewhere,” says Veena, a fellow at ATREE. “To solve India’s drying and degrading rivers problem, we need to get the science right,” she adds.

ATREE offers these arguments against Jaggi Vasudev’s claims –

CLAIM 1 – Normalize rainfall

The connection between planting more trees and receiving more rainfall is contested because increased rainfall has only been observed when land-use change and ‘afforestation’ is at much larger scales. A 1 Km buffer of trees on either side of the lake would be unlikely to affect rainfall.

CLAIM 2 – Prevent soil erosion

Trees can help prevent soil erosion, but only in places which are prone to flash floods.

CLAIM 3 -Improve water quality

Trees can trap some pollutants, but when industrial effluents and domestic sewage is dumped directly into rivers and streams (as is the case across India), the sheer magnitude and nature of contaminants will not be abated by trees.

CLAIM 4 – Recharge groundwater

One of the key reasons a river dries is because of the over-pumping of groundwater. As the groundwater gets increasingly sucked dry, any inflow of water into a stream goes into the ground. And watershed development only works when there is a consensus among user groups to use less water.

The cause of disease

In most battles fought to protect the environment, there is an adversary to be dealt with. In the Narmada Bachao Andolan, it is the Government which is building dams on the river. Closer home, in the case of the Cooum river, it is against Metrowater for illegally dumping sewage into the waterbody and industries for allowing effluents to be released untreated. In Jaggi Vasudev’s campaign however, there is simply no enemy.

“This is the most polite fight to save the environment that I have seen,” says Nityanand. “He wants to save rivers but what is he saving them from? Why are water sources getting polluted or depleted? Should this not be part of the narrative?” he asks.

In an article, noted environmental Journalist Prerna Bindra, enlists the causes behind destruction of rivers as –  Mining of sand beds and boulders, pollution, deforestation, encroachment on river beds, biodiversity destruction,  river-linking, river conservation policies (or lack of them). The rally she argues, fails to address these major problems.

A polluted river in Ahmedabad. 

“To leave out the bigger problems would mean the solution is merely cosmetic,” says Veena. “Trees are not going to help our cause if industries keep dumping effluents into water bodies. Why is the Ganga polluted? It is due to untreated sewage released into it. Why not address how dams are going to affect these water bodies. This is greenwashing where you remain silent on key issues and give planting trees as a solution,” she explains.

Who is backing this campaign?

Nityanand, points out that several sponsors for the 7000km rally have already directly or indirectly contributed to the degradation of the environment.

Some of the sponsors include Adani group that is mired in more than one environment related controversy, ONGC that is facing flak for oil leaks in Tamil Nadu and Mahindra group headed by Keshub Mahindra who once headed Union Carbide, the company involved in the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Mercedes to save the environment?

But the most bemusing parts of this campaign has to be – the alien green Mercedes that Jaggi Vasudev is using to travel.

Image source: Rally For Rivers/Facebook

The Mercedes G63 worth over Rs 2 crore gives a mileage of 11.8 km per litre and is not exactly the symbol of sustainability, argue environmentalists. “The car symbolises what this campaign stands for – complete fluff,” says Nityanand.

“Tree planting or lake cleaning or reviving rivers ought to be tasks that are done mindfully, fully aware that it is not just an act of reconstruction, but also of protest against an economic system that enslaves and deploys us all to work against our own life-support systems,” he argues in a social media post.

While Jaggi Vasudev’s attempts to start dialogue on saving rivers are commendable, the way he has gone about it washes out any credibility the campaign may hold, opine experts.

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Malala Yousafzai, calls out Aung San Suu Kyi over silence on Rohingya

 Malala Yousafzai

Story highlights

  • The Rohingya are a stateless people in Myanmar
  • Yousafzai called out fellow Nobel laureate and the country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi for not doing enough to help them

(CNN)Malala Yousafzai, the youngest recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize, called on fellow laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to condemn the “tragic and shameful treatment” of Myanmar’s Rohingya population.

The 20-year-old education advocate criticized Suu Kyi, the country’s state councilor and de facto leader, for her silence on the plight of the Rohingya people, who have been fleeing a harsh crackdown by the Myanmar military.

Malala Yousafzai

“Over the last several years, I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment. I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same,” Yousafzai wrote. “The world is waiting and the Rohingya Muslims are waiting.”
The Rohingya, a Muslim minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, are considered some of the most persecuted people in the world. Myanmar, also known as Burma, considers them Bangladeshi while neighboring Bangladesh says they’re Burmese, effectively leaving them without a state.
Recent violent clashes in Myanmar have killed hundreds while a mass exodus has seen more than 73,000 flee across the border since August 25, the United Nations said on Sunday.
In Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, there are reports of at least another 30,000 Rohingyas trapped in hilly terrain without basic supplies of food, water or medicine, according to activists.
Rohingya activists say the refugees are stranded between Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships, as they are unable to cross the Naf River into Bangladesh.
Videos provided to CNN by activists show dozens of men, women and children stranded on a mountain, surrounded by dense jungle, living in makeshift shelters made of sticks and sheets.
“The human lives that are most vulnerable must be rescued immediately without delay,” executive director of Burma Human Rights Network, Kyaw Win, said in a statement.

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Crack down on cow vigilantism, Supreme Court to States, Centre

Around 50 cow vigilantes targeted officials of the Tamil Nadu government transporting cows from Jaisalmer to their state. Photo used for illustration purpose only. File   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

The court asks all States and UTs to appoint nodal police officers in every district.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked all States and Union Territories to appoint nodal police officers district-wise to crack down on and prosecute cow vigilante groups that engage in violence and mayhem.

Four BJP-ruled States — Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Gujarat — accepted the apex court’s suggestion to appoint dedicated nodal police officers in the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) to prevent cow vigilantes or gau rakshaks, as they call themselves, from “taking the law or becoming the law unto themselves.”

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justive Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy, and A.M. Khanwilkar was hearing an intervention by Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi, about the lack of responsibility and accountability shown by the Centre and State administrations even as cow vigilantes wreaked havoc and resorted to murder in broad daylight in the name of the cow.

Dalits and Muslims have been at the receiving end of a rash of violence unleashed by lynch mobs, especially in the northern States.

The court directed the Centre to respond to a submission by senior advocate Indira Jaising for Mr. Gandhi that the Centre cannot wash their hands of its constitutional responsibility under Article 256 to instruct the States to take “necessary” steps in law to save innocent human lives from fury of the mobs.

The court said the Centre should reply to this argument made by Mr. Gandhi in the spirit of “co-operative federalism”.

“Non-violence is the founding faith of this country. The Centre cannot turn its back on the violence. The States have the responsibility to lodge FIRs against these vigilantes,” Ms. Jaising submitted.

“You have to stop it (violence),” Chief Justice Misra told Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the four northern States.

The court asked Mr. Mehta to take instructions from the Centre, to specify its role under Article 256 and the steps it would take from its side to prevent any future incidents of violence.

Pointing out that most of the violent incidents had occurred on highways, Ms. Jaising said the States should take steps to initiate highway patrolling.

The court directed the Chief Secretaries and the Directors General of Police of States to consult each other and respond to the court. The Centre shall also indicate its views on this issue.

The court posted the case for hearing on September 22.

In the previous hearing, the Centre said ending vigilantism and violence by cow protection groups is a ‘State subject’ and the Centre has no role to play, though it condemns all forms of violence.

A bunch of petitions led by Congress activist Tehseen Poonawalla had sought criminal action against cow vigilante groups whose recent rampages and lynchings have seen communal tensions rise in the country.

The petitions had also sought a direction to the Central and State govetnments to pull down all the videos of violence uploaded by cow vigilante groups from social media sites.

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Who Killed Gauri Lankesh ?

By-  Ernest Flanagan


Who killed Gauri Lankesh? And got away scot free?
Two bike bourne assailants, somehow affliated to the BJP?

Shooting a helpless woman, what message does it send?
If you go against the establishment, this will be your end ?

Did she get our support, when she stood up for you and me?
Defying the forces of communalism, to be secular and free

Did you stand with her, when she took on right wing factions?
Did she stop to consider, the consequence of her actions?

No no we’re all cowards who try to stay home and safe
We sit on the fence on facebook and tremble in disgrace

But a bird-like figure like Gauri, stood like a gigantic rock
The forces of communalism were forced to retreat in shock

How many more like her, have to let their life blood run
And fall prey to the forces of evil, and the bullets of a gun

When will you say enough and bravely take a stand?
And stop the rot that’s eating up this great land ?

Gauri is one of the bravest people the world has ever known
A true Indian Hero that we can truly call our own

Who killed Gauri Lankesh? The answer is plain to see

……………………………E J F…………………………..

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Gaya Road Rage Case: Rocky Yadav, 2 Others Sentenced to Life

Aditya Sachdeva was only 19 years old when he was shot at point blank range by Rocky Yadav.

A sessions court in Gaya has sentenced Rocky Yadav and two other of his friends to life imprisonment, while his mother Bindi Yadav has been awarded a five-year life imprisonment. Additionally, he has also been fined a sum of Rs 1 lakh, reported News18.

The Gaya district court, on 31 August, convicted Rocky and three others in the murder of Aditya Sachdeva. Rocky – the son of JD(U) MLC Manorama Devi – has been accused of shooting Sachdeva after he overtook the former’s SUV on the road connecting Gaya and Bodh Gaya on 7 May 2016.

The former Bihar lawmaker’s son allegedly fired a warning shot in the air, compelling Sachdeva to bring his vehicle to a halt. Nineteen-year-old Sachdeva, a Class 12 student at the time, was then beaten up and shot dead.


Yadav fled from the spot after committing the crime and took shelter at his father’s factory in Bodh Gaya, from where he was arrested 48 hours later.

What followed was a 16-month-long ordeal for the Sachdeva family, with the case against Yadav hitting hurdle after hurdle. From the Patna High Court granting bail to Yadav to key witnesses turning hostile, the high-profile case faced several obstructions and attempts by Yadav’s family to derail it in the trial stages.

A timeline of the Gaya road rage case.
A timeline of the Gaya road rage case. (Photo: Liju Joseph/The Quint)


The three others convicted with Rocky Yadav include his father, Bindi Yadav, cousin Teni Yadav and his mother’s security guard, Rajesh Kumar.

While Yadav was found guilty of IPC sections 302 (murder), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 427 (mischief causing damage) and section 27 of the Arms Act, Bindi Yadav was held guilty under sections 212 (harbouring the offender) and 177 (furnishing false information).

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All India Peoples’ Science Network (AIPSN) resolution to condemn #GauriLankeshMurder

AIPSN Resolution to condemn the murder of Ms. Gauri Lankesh


The assassination of Ms. Gauri Lankesh, noted Kannada journalist, writer, activist and champion  of secularism and communal harmony has come as a rude shock. Ms. Gauri Lankesh was killed on the night of 5th September, 2017, right in front of her residence in Bangalore. She was Editor of the popular Kannada weekly, Gauri Lankesh Patrike.

This brutal murder of an outspoken journalist is a dastardly attack seeking to muzzle free speech and freedom of the press. Ms. Gauri Lankesh was a bitter critic of the Hindutva brand of politics, and an uncompromising crusader against intolerance, communalism gender and caste injustice. She had also earned the wrath of many so-called godmen and spiritual institutions for exposing sexual abuses in the name of “spiritual salvation.”

It is perhaps not coincidental that on 5th September, Bengaluru was hosting a convention on social harmony. Also, heads of several Hindu religious institutions were holding a “dharna” demanding the passage of an “Anti-Superstition Bill” by the Karnataka legislature. Saffron forces had also planned to inaugurate a communally-charged “Mangalore Chalo” programme that was finally aborted. Ms. Gauri Lankesh had fiercely opposed this “ Mangalore Chalo” programme and had also supported the Lingayat Mutts’ idea of declaring themselves non-Hindus since, according to the 12th century social reformer Basavanna, discrimination on the basis of caste and gender were forbidden. 

The murder of Ms.Gauri Lankesh follows on the heels of the murders of Dr.Narendra Dabholkar, Shri Govind Pansare and Prof.M.M.Kalburgi, probably as part of the same conspiracy by dark right-wing forces.

The All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN) condemns Ms. Gauri Lankesh’s  murder, conveys its heart-felt condolences to her family and friends and expresses its solidarity with the journalist community.

The AIPSN calls upon all its constituents to hold protest meetings against this murderous act, perpetrated by the forces of intolerance that are a threat to the country’s unity.

 The AIPSN joins hands with all progressive forces in appealing to citizens to challenge the forces of reaction, who are responsible for these assassinations and who seek to deny democratic space for  reasoned debate, plurality of opinion and culture and freedom of speech and expression.

The AIPSN demands speedy action from the Government of Karnataka to bring to book the forces that have committed this heinous crime and which continue to disturb peace and communal harmony.


S.Chatterjee                                                                   T.Ramesh

President, AIPSN                                                           General Secretary, AIPSN


6 September 2017.

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I do not wish to say RIP #GauriLankesh


May your soul haunt us all
Shake us up deep within
Making many, many more speak out
Resist and fight their poison

How many can they kill?

And even if they do,
Even if the body becomes lifeless,
Can they ever crush our spirit
Or kill our ideas and dreams.

Let’s go beyond just
Anguished posts
Outraged tweets
Helpless venting
Or resigned silences
Far beyond token protests
Or candlelight vigils

Let’s not have yet another apathetic or cathartic pause
After yet again quoting Niemoller’s “first they came for…”

Can we not tell them instead –
We are coming for you
Not just you personally
But what you stand & wish for
That we will fight you and your ideas
On the streets and
In our public spaces
Our offices and schools
Our colleges and universities
Our buildingsand housing societies
Our local neighbourhoods…

Is it not time to say
Enough is enough
We will not allow you anymore
To spread your venom
Or poison more minds
Nor let you intimidate us into silence
Or feel the fear you want us to feel
That till we drive you to the ground
We will not rest in peace
Nor will Gauri
Or anyone else you kill.

By- Rakesh Sharma

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PM Modi follows 4 Twitter accounts that trolled #GauriLankeshMurder

 What does it say when the people who trolled slain journalist Gauri Lankesh are followed on social media by the Prime Minister?

Right wing spews venom on social media after #GauriLankeshMurder

 by- Altnews

After Burhan Wani Gauri lankesh also killed how sad“, tweeted Ashish Singh. He further retweeted a tweet which said, “Hame chahiye azadi jihadiyose Jai Shree Ram,Jai Shree Ram“. In another tweet, Ashish Singh retweeted a Bangalore Times tweet about Gauri Lankesh’s death with the comment, “Jaisi karni vaisi bharni“. Ashish Singh’s twitter profile picture is a selfie with Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. Ashish is followed by PM Modi on Twitter. Other senior ministers in the Union Government like Ravi Shankar Prasad and Vijay Goel also follow his Twitter handle. His Twitter bio describes him as “India272Pune , ( IIT Bombay,IIMP) – Political Strategist , Cartoonist I am Hindu and Team PM Modi“. Ashish was one of the many who adhere to the right-wing ideology and started spewing venom after senior journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead at her home in Bangalore.


Another account that is followed by PM Modi and Union Minister Giriraj Singh tweeted, “एक कुतिया कुत्ते की मौत क्या मरी सारे पिल्ले एक सुर में बिलबिला रहे है। 😜😜 अब ये कौन कह रहा है किसी शिष्य ने गुरु दक्षिणा में #GauriLankesh को वही दे दिया जिसकी शिक्षा वामपंथी अपने शिष्यों को देते है? (Translation: A bitch died a dog’s death and all of her litter is crying in the same voice)

Nikhil Dadich

A journalist Jagrati Shukla wrote, “So, Commy Gauri Lankesh has been murdered mercilessly. Your deeds always come back to haunt you, they say. Amen.” Jagrati Shukla has a history of hateful tweets against Dalits, Sikhs and other sections of the society.

Jagrati Shukla: So, Commy Gauri Lankesh has been murdered mercilessly. Your deeds always come back to haunt you, they say. Amen.

Another senior journalist who is the editor-in-chief of Vishwavani Daily and former OSD to BJP MP Ananth Kumar couldn’t resist labelling her as a Naxal Sympathiser while announcingher death.

Vishweshwar Bhat Naxal sympathiser and Senior journalist

Rita who claims to be a former presenter on All India Radio and is followed by PM Modi on Twitter gave not one but multiple labels. Apparently, that was the most important thing to do in this hour of grief.

Rita For those who don't know gauri lankesh leftist nexal sympathizer anti establishment anti Hindu

Oxomiya Jiyori which is yet another account followed by PM Modi on Twitter said “God had different plan for group of Bharat tere tukde Honge” while commenting on Gauri Lankesh’s pictures with JNU students Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid. Those masked men who actually raised those slogans in JNU have never been arrested but the propaganda is being used to malign and justify Gauri Lankesh’s murder.

Oxomiya Jiyori God had different plan for group of bharat tere tukde honge

The list is endless as who all among the right-wing thought that the horrifying murder of a person is the right time to spew all the venom they had against them because of ideological differences. There are many more on Facebook and Twitter who said things that are so hateful that it cannot be reproduced here. Is this the same hateful ideology that consumed Gauri Lankesh?

Right wing spews venom on social media after Senior Journalist Gauri Lankesh is shot dead


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India – The Privacy Battle Over the World’s Largest Biometric Database

A new ruling could jeopardize India’s controversial collection of citizens’ fingerprints, photographs, and iris scans.

Women stand in a line to enroll in the Unique Identification (UID) database system at Merta district in the desert Indian state of Rajasthan February 22, 2013.
Women in the Indian state of Rajasthan enroll in Aadhaar in 2013.Mansi Thapliyal / Reuters
In 2009, with little attention from abroad, the government of India launched a new identification program that has gone on to become the largest biometric database in the world. The program, known as Aadhaar, has collected the names, addresses, phone numbers—and perhaps more significantly, fingerprints, photographs, and iris scans—of more than 1 billion people. In the process, Aadhaar has taken on a role in virtually all parts of day-to-day life in India, from schools to hospitals to banks, and has opened up pathways to a kind of large-scale data collection that has never existed before.The Indian government views Aadhaar as a key solution for a myriad number of societal challenges, but critics see it as a step toward a surveillance state. Now, the Aadhaar experiment faces a significant threat from the Indian Supreme Court—one that may prove to be existential.

In late August, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that found, for the first time, a fundamental right to privacy in the Indian Constitution. The decision has been widely celebrated by Aadhaar’s opponents, who believe that the program is in conflict with the newly enshrined right. Soon, the Supreme Court will direct its attention to this very issue, and if they find that Aadhaar violates privacy rights, it will be up to lawmakers to rethink the entire program. But if the Supreme Court rules that the program is constitutional, then Aadhaar, already staggering in scope and ambition, will continue to grow.

When the Indian government first launched Aadhaar, it saw an opportunity to harness the country’s burgeoning technology sector to reduce corruption and streamline the delivery of government services. Prior to the advent of Aadhaar, the government has said it was plagued by problems managing its welfare programs, and lost millions of dollars each year as Indian residents either inserted fake names or their own names multiple times into the system in order to withdraw more than their fair share of benefits. With Aadhaar, the practice of accessing benefits became a simple matter of touching a fingerprint scanner. If the fingerprint matches the one on file, the benefit can be approved and administered. When it is working well, the process is comparable to unlocking an iPhone, and ensures that government benefits go only to the people who qualify.Open to all Indian residents, Aadhaar was optional at first and associated with only a handful of government subsidies, including those for food and liquefied petroleum gas for cooking. It was targeted at those who needed help the most, particularly rural villagers who lacked official forms of identification, and were therefore unable to open bank accounts or access welfare programs in the past.

But over time, mission creep set in. Under the leadership of Nandan Nilekani, the cofounder of the outsourcing firm Infosys (whom Jon Stewart once welcomed as his new overlord on The Daily Show), Aadhaar was used as a way to apply data-driven improvements to a wide range of government and private-sector services. Aadhaar was soon linked to so many activities that it has now become almost impossible to live in India without enrolling. Participation in the program is a requirement, or will be soon, for filing taxes, opening bank accounts, receiving school lunch in the state of Uttar Pradesh, purchasing railway tickets online, accessing some public Wi-Fi, participating in the state of Karnataka’s universal health-care coverage, and benefiting from a wide range of welfare programs. The Indian Member of Parliament Jairam Ramesh has sarcastically described the program as “compulsorily mandatorily voluntary.”

The government authority responsible for administering Aadhaar declined to comment, but in an op-ed for The Indian Express, its CEO, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, wrote that the program has saved the government approximately $8 billion in the past two years alone (the World Bank has estimated that the figure is closer to $1 billion per year). Pandey says that the program has succeeded in improving the government’s capacity for reaching and serving people directly.For many of the communities Aadhaar was designed to help—particularly the poor and the underserved—the technology hasn’t lived up to the sunny rhetoric, however. In a country with inconsistent internet outside of its large cities, remote towns struggle to get online to authenticate peoples’ fingerprints with the central database. Some enrollees insist that their satellite-internet access works only on cloudy days; others say it functions best when it’s sunny.

According to an analysis of government data by Reetika Khera, a professor of economics at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, millions of people have missed out on government benefits because of Aadhaar. In some cases, that’s because those who are elderly or disabled are unable to walk to the distribution sites to verify their identities. Others, who do manual labor, find that their fingerprints are too weathered from years of physical exertion to scan correctly, and so are denied their food rations.

Nikhil Dey, one of the founders of the grassroots organization Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, also studied the government’s data. He found that approximately 1 million people in the state of Rajasthan had been unfairly dropped from the government lists for food subsidies due to Aadhaar, and more than 3 million were unable to collect their designated grain allocations. In one district alone, Dey says, 1,350 out of approximately 2,900 people marked “dead” or “duplicate” were actually neither, but lost access to their pensions anyway.Despite these implementation challenges, the scariest parts about the program for privacy advocates are its ubiquity and lax security. According to the technology engineer Anand Venkatanarayanan, when biometric information is used to access a service via Aadhaar, such as purchasing a new cell phone, the service provider receives that person’s demographic data (name, address, phone number), and the government receives the metadata—specifically, the date and time of the transaction, the form of identification used, and the company with which the transaction was carried out. That information can paint a fuzzy but intimate long-term picture of a person’s life, and raises concerns about both government surveillance and private-sector abuse.

There is already ample evidence of misuse. High-profile examples from the past several months have dominated news cycles: 210 government agenciespublished full names, addresses, and Aadhaar numbers of welfare beneficiaries; 120 million users’ Aadhaar information appears to have been leaked from the telecommunications company Reliance Jio (the company claimed the data was inauthentic); bank-account and Aadhaar details of more than 100 million peoplewere disclosed through certain open-government portals; the government’s e-hospital database was hacked to access confidential Aadhaar information.

These disclosures may be most damaging for those who are already vulnerable. Apar Gupta, a lawyer on the team that challenged Aadhaar before the Supreme Court, is particularly concerned about many Dalits (previously the “untouchables” in the caste system) and migrant laborers who work as manual scavengers, entering sewers without protection to clean them by hand. It’s a dangerous occupation with a high fatality rate, and it can also bring immense social stigma. Gupta worries that Aadhaar will permanently stigmatize these individuals by allowing future employers, schools, banks, and new acquaintances to view their database information and judge them based on their socioeconomic standing. Social mobility in India could become even more difficult. So could hiding a pregnancy or a gender-reassignment surgery, or failing the eighth grade. In many of the objections raised about Aadhaar, there’s a kernel of fear that the program could turn a person’s identity into a prison.The August 24 Supreme Court ruling seemed to address these concerns, making the case that privacy is essential for an individual to function in society. “Privacy ensures that a human being can lead a life of dignity by securing the inner recesses of the human personality from unwanted intrusion,” Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud wrote. In arriving at its decision, the Supreme Court rejected two previous decisions from the 1950s and 1960s that denied a right to privacy, and instead framed privacy as a “primordial” right that must be understood in the context of an interconnected world. The justices further emphasized the point by referencing international jurisprudence about privacy from the United States, Canada, South Africa, and the European Union.

That didn’t surprise Mishi Choudhary, the legal director of the Software Freedom Law Center, who noted that “we’re at a stage where technology is sweeping the planet in almost the same way. A lot of countries are looking to each other for guidance on how to adapt their jurisprudence to suit the current world.”

Over the last few years, Russia, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria have all expressed interest in the Aadhaar program, and according to reports, representatives from Tanzania, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh recently visited India to learn more about implementing an Aadhaar system of their own. As the Supreme Court once again prepares for hearings about Aadhaar, the world will be paying close attention.

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