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Freedom Under Fire: Beaten Up for Not Saying Bharat Mata; Professor Suspended; Kanhaiya Talk Stopped

A round-up of news, mostly bad but some good, on the rights front from India.

Freedom of expression is your right. Credit: rhinman/Flickr, CC BY 2.0.Credit: rhinman/Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Madrasa students beaten up in Delhi for not saying ‘Bharat mata ki jai’

Three Muslim boys aged between 17 and 21, Dikash, Ajmal and Naeem, were allegedly thrashed by a group of men at a park in Delhi’s Begumpur area for not saying ‘Bharat mata ki jai’. One of the boys has sustained a fracture, Hindustan Times reported. In his statement to the police, Dilkash said that he along with his friends were taking a stroll in the park when five men came and hit them from behind. They started abusing them and ordered them to chant the slogan. When they refused, the men started beating them up. The boys then managed to run away to the mosque where they study in the madrasa, they said.

According to a Times of India report, police officials have said that the boys did not mention the slogan in their statement and they found out about it from other sources. A case has been filed under IPC sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and 341 (wrongful restraint). The FIR was registered on 29 March, though the incident occurred on March 26. According to The Hindu, police officers claimed that this delay was because they were waiting for medical reports. The students have identified two of the attackers who live in the neighbourhood.

Kanhaiya’s AMU visit cancelled after opposition from right-wing groups

Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar was meant to visit Aligarh Muslim University on April 2 to speak at a convention on nationalism, but the trip has been cancelled following protests from Hindutva groups and the ABVP, The Hindu reported. Sources said the university administration told the organisers they wanted to avoid “possible controversy as the right wing groups had been trying to create controversies with regard to the university and target it over baseless and completely false accusations”.

Ranchi professor suspended for inviting ‘mentor of anti-nationals’ from JNU

Associate professor at the Central University of Jharkhand (CUJ) Shreya Bhattacharji has been suspended by the vice-chancellor for inviting JNU professor NM Panini to an event marking Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary, Indian Expressreported. The suspension order states: “Prof Panini is considered as mentor of the group of students of JNU, who were involved in anti-national activities in JNU campus recently. As such, the invitation to Prof Panini by Dr Shreya Bhattacharji, without examining his credentials, led to widespread criticism from different quarters of the society as a result of which not only the image of the University was tarnished as well as the reputation of the Vice-Chancellor was put on stake”. It also refers to Panini as “a person of disputed integrity”.

Panini, however, claims that the VC had also extended an invitation to him, but later said that the event was cancelled.

Editor’s Guild report on Chhattisgarh: ‘Journalists under attack by state, non-state actors’

In a report on recent arrests of journalists in Chhattisgarh and threats to journalists, the Editor’s Guild fact-finding team has said that the region is fast becoming a conflict zone and journalists are “under attack by state and non-state actors”, Indian Express reported. The report goes on to say: “There is a general perception that every single journalist is under the government scanner and all their activities are under surveillance. They hesitate to discuss anything over the phone because, as they say, ‘the police is listening to every word we speak’”. The Editor’s Guild report also added that government officials have “categorically denied these charges”.

The report expressed a special concern towards stringers, as they are often “appointed without any formalities” and disowned once they are “seen as a liability”.

Hrithik Roshan’s “affair with the pope” comment gets him into legal trouble

Hrithik Roshan has been served a criminal notice under section 295A of the IPC over a social media comment he made on the pope. According to an NDTV report, the notice has been sent by Abraham Mathai, all-India president of the Indian Christian Voice. The notice reads: “Our client Dr Abraham Mathai, who is a Christian by birth and faith … is extremely hurt by your disobedient and inexcusable comments, which has hurt the religious feelings and sentiments of majority of Christians across the world”.

In January this year, Roshan tweeted: “Ther r more chances of me having had an affair with d Pope dan any of d (Im sure wonderful)women d media hs ben naming (sic)”. The actor was referring to reports of his alleged affair with Kangana Ranaut.

Supreme Court dismisses plea against Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen 

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking deportation of controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen and cancellation of her visa given by the Indian government, Indian Express reported. The appeal was filed by NGO ‘All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front’, alleging that she has been violating the Foreigners Order, 1948 and the Foreigners Act, 1946 by airing her views without prior permission. “Do you think we have don’t have any other work to do,” the judges said while dismissing the plea.

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