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Mainstream media websites are obsessed with the outdated idea of not linking out to content. This is a tactic from the last decade and serves no useful purpose. The lack of adequate education of journalists fails to leverage the medium in some miserly reluctance to acknowledge. We also see it in the reporting of sources as "a news channel" rather than naming the source and crediting it.

Good digital journalism, on the contrary provides robust linking to sources for the story, relevant information that add dimension to it for the curious reader to develop a larger picture.

In an age when search engines and social networks are all set to control visibility on the internet, your voice is only as independent as the neutrality with which it will reach people and the government has undisclosed deals with those controlling the internet.

Even as alarm grows over the shrinking neutrality of the internet, I see very few efforts in Indian media to counter it.

My suggestion is that upcoming digital media - particularly news and opinion - with the highest risk of censorship through visibility molding future proof themselves with enhanced linking to each other, to sources, smaller blogs and creating a network of links between excellent content. Particularly content that is at risk of being silenced.

It helps the reader form a more comprehensive view if a dialogue can be built across opinion pieces, enhancing, refuting, adding dimension and generally refining and taking public opinion to more nuanced views than all sites publishing their own mandatory "one excellent opinion piece oncurrent national outrage" - or for that matter, building a dialogue within your sites too.

This above is particularly important to counter growing repression, arbitrarily curtailed rights, narrowed thinking and kneejerkism shrinking the space for depth and richness in public thinking. Naturally, this is stupidifying society and needs combating unless we want to spiral into oblivion riding frustrations and snap judgments.

This is useful today, but it will be desperately required in our future for survival itself. It is a heads up and a suggestion. If you think it has merit, you could use it as you see fit.

Don't remain at the mercy of gatekeepers of access setting up their shops.

It is probably a good idea to go back to good old blogging ethics of forming communities, building dialogue.

3

internet_115634I think TOR's hidden services are dismissed too easily. They are a quick access to "anyone can host their own site" "anyone can have their own domain" and "hey, let's have fun!". I think more people should use TOR to host their own sites for free - decentralized is the future of the internet, though TOR can be slow (better connectivity is changing a lot of things).

While undoubtedly there are some really creepy hidden services on the TOR deep web, there are certain sites that are fascinating too. I also like using TOR features, rather than only using it as an exit node - mainly because I rarely do anything that needs obfuscation, and my regular use urls haven't gotten blocked.... yet.

So, if you have become sick of the clichéd bookmarks with the same few sites and forums and directories, here is yet another list - but this is my bookmarks. I am not intending to be comprehensive at all. I am simply sharing .onion bookmarks from my browser. Sites I enjoyed visiting (sorry, no arms dealers and drug sources - you should go start at the Hidden Wiki or something) - in no particular sequence.

How to Exit the Matrix - a comprehensive document about the police state and the individuals right to privacy that includes systematic information on how to become untraceable on the internet.

Beneath VT - Tunnels under Virginia Tech - this site describes (illegal - trespassing) explorations of steam tunnels under Virginia Tech. It is fairly fascinating. If you liked famous five as a kid, you'll like this one now.

ReddiTor - if you love redit for its irreverent discussions, you'll love redditor - Reddit on the deep web. What do people say, when they don't have to worry about their identities and how they look saying what they really feel? For example, see Reddit onions on the web and ReddiTor onions on TOR.

Tormail - your email address may look like you@tormail.org, but you can access it only as a hidden site. Safer, anonymous and supports email clients. Send and receive emails with complete privacy.

Wikileaks mirror as a hidden site. This one was working when most else was under attack. It still works. The same with The Pirate Bay.

Stranger than fiction: Examines the WTC terrorist attack on 9/11 and meanders through history examining the Jewish control and use of the US for its own ends. Uses extensive references. Still haven't gotten around to verifying it all, but a fascinating read nonetheless. This is one of the many fascinating documents archived in The TOR Library.

There are many libraries. I think people just share books they have as a service. (no clue on copyright scenario). Here is a library of books on Anarchy.

FreeFor is a place for pseudonomous meetings with secure and varied communications and like minded people (hopefully). This includes the brilliant idea of making public keys for encrypted/signed emails available on an .onion site itself.

And so on... I am currently running a test server on my laptop with a liquid feedback installation for Pirate Party India. It is a still developing software that aims to facilitate the process of decision making in a democratic manner by organizing the views of a large number of people - which is very difficult to do and people get overlooked under normal circumstances. We are hoping that if this works, it will aid the process of making sure citizen voices get heard.

If you enjoyed this list and found it useful... I guess I can search my bookmarks better 🙂

 

Note: You will not be able to see these links without downloading and installing TOR. An alternative is to add ".to" to the url, and see it on the website onion.to - which serves as a proxy for seeing .onion sites. So blahblahblahblah.onion would become bllahblahblahblah.onion.to - and you will be able to see it from a normal browser.

14

As the scams started coming out of the woodwork, so did the government's desire to limit the travel of information. To governments worldwide, bloated in their sense of impunity, the internet was a devastating blow. Castles of fakery started to crumble and governments waged a relentless war on their own people.

It is easy in a country like India, where the common man is largely servile when it comes to powerful people, and the low penetration of the internet in the country guarantees that this number is not significant... yet.

In the last few years, the government has waged a steady war on its internetizens. This war has been on many fronts and in insidious ways that never rang true.

  • There are seven alphabet soup agencies (RAW, CID, MI, etc) who can intercept the phonecalls, SMSs and emails of citizens without any proof of guilt or warrant required. This was quietly pushed in from the periphery in the shadow of 26/11 when it was easy to sell anything in the name of anti-terror initiatives. You cannot expect a terrorist to actually be sending emails that can be picked up saying "oh, I'm going to bomb this place on such a date". Indeed, so far, the only internet related investigations - at least publicly have been those of people who emailed claims of attacks. It has been over two years since this power was with our agencies, but there is no particular intelligence in evidence.
  • We have the government making requests to various websites to take down content. It is unclear what laws are used in this situation, since only a part of them are court orders. Interestingly, these were promoted with a false religious harmony excuse while a majority of the content for removal was political in nature. In our country with its bloody history of religious disharmony, we haven't got any dead people from religious offences on the internet so far. Strange that religious fundamentalist organizations are not meddled with to curb religious extremism, but the internet is.
  • Then came Sibal's utterly outrageous demand for prescreening, which got laughed out of front pages of all but the most loyal newspapers. He quickly withdrew it realizing that he had made an ass of himself, but surprisingly, a journalist had problems with the kind of content he wanted censored, so the court gave an order asking for exactly that.
  • We have the IT Rules, which are really strange in that they allow anyone to govern anyone. In a bizarre way, it makes sense, since the government is not doing governance anyway. The IT Rules are probably the only ones where the enforcement of law does not require any government or judicial interaction whatsoever. Much has been said of the harm from such rules, so I will not repeat it here, but it should be interesting to realize that there is absolutely no way to monitor the use of these rules. No way to know what and how much content has been taken down by using them. This is no coincidence. The government doesn't want us to know how heavily we are being censored.
  • Protection of Intellectual Property is going to such extents that a court order from the Madras High Court led to a nationwide ban on content sharing sites - the ones that hadn't gone to the "meetings" with our government. Youtube can pirate - no problem, because Google is entertaining content takedown notices routinely - the objective is the control, not the piracy. Sites that can't be controlled are delegitimized. The High Court clarified that it did not mean entire websites should be blocked, which was no surprise. Still, vimeo.com is not working for me - blocked - MTNL Mumbai 3G. There are three further questions about this.
    • Does a High Court have nationwide jurisdiction at all? In the sense of ISPs in Mumbai blocking content because of an order from Madras High Court - I don't know. I used to think that High Courts were regional, but I may be mistaken.
    • Why should the cost of safeguarding the property of those who own it be foisted on those who don't earn from it? If an illegal url has been notified and still not removed, it makes sense to hold the site responsible, but why should the considerable manpower and expense of monitoring content on a public medium be the cost and responsibility of those not earning from it? The point is coercing large sties into interfacing with the government or being banned.
    • Where did the list of urls to block materialize from? Who made that list? The court order makes no mention. Whose interests were served with these strong arm tactics?
  • And then there is the entire "class apart" with the jailed cartoonist in West Bengal, and protesters for internet freedom being harassed by police, their personal information recorded, intimidation, illegal photographing in spite of their refusal.... treated like criminals, even though the right to protest is present in theory.

And the net is tightening. There are no signs of relenting. As we speak, the Indian government has made a proposal in the UN for government control over the internet. It is not only on the internet, all kinds of citizens are being labeled enemies of the state.

Take for example the extreme irony of Kudankulam protesters being accused of foreign interests for opposing the government on a Russian reactor. No proofs needed. Simple declarations are enough. A similar declaration had started the free for all on Maoists that led to government formed militia that they no longer are able to control along with the original problem. It is not rocket science to realize where the question of control on the internet is headed.

After every terrorist attack, there are tales of incompetence. Intelligence received was not used. No matter how much the rights of people are eroded, this cannot be fixed without actually doing jobs. And the government simply lacks the will or ability to do anything about it. Instead of developing the ability, there is a pretense of being capable by bullying people into increasingly tight prisons.

  • We do not manufacture any of the computers and most softwares we use. In other words, we have no clue as to what we are trusting by default.
  • Government sites are primitive at best. Ignorance is blatantly evident in the lack of ToS on the site of Kapil Sibal - the guy who made it mandatory for sites to have ToS.  There is little comprehension of how the laws translate into reality.
  • China recently hacked into US servers and identified as our Military Intelligence. Apart from the security issues for both US and India, this also is an international relations risk. Censorship will not fix this.
  • Recently, there is the question of a foreign firm being hired at extra cost to handle cyber security for India. So let us get this straight. Foreign nationals will handle cyber security for India, and the elected government will pretend to know enough to legislate it. What does this mean, exactly beyond creating some handly legislation to apply at will if needed?

The problem of censorship is not really a problem in terms of citizens freedoms, in my view. Like the government has no resources or coherent plan to monitor underage drinking, it has no coherent way of monitoring the magnitude of content on the internet. Such laws are grey areas no one applies, unless you want to attack someone and need to throw the book at them.

This, in my view is less dangerous to individuals than it is for the country, where its laws are rendered into incoherent tools for enforcing the will of the government rather than the constitution  of the country. This kind of arbitrary law making devalues the legal system itself and erodes its legitimacy.

As for the religious offenses, it is only people who want to get offended that fixate on the offensive. Normal people simply avoid what they don't like. This isn't like TV, where content is linear or limited in choice. As for the terrorists, they have their codes and secure methods of communication right under the noses of the clueless people now wasting time spying on all kinds of people because they can rather than developing more targeted methods to crackdown on exactly the ones that need caught. As for citizens who want privacy, they use TOR, https, fake identities and other anonymizing methods and will possibly be far more damaging while safe in their anonymity and reckless in their outrage than they would with real identities.

As for the enemies of the state, the real enemies of the state are sitting in the Parliament, brazenly ignoring real issues for opportunistic exploitation and facades of "doing something".

Note: I make no distinction between the ruling party and the opposition unless they have vocally opposed and prevented rights from being violated.

7

Anonymous has always fascinated me. It was with great interest that I heard of Operation India being "engaged". I liked it that they were picking up on censorship to protest. I thought that DDoS attacks were a lot of trouble for little result beyond the time of the attack and illegal as well. Sites being defaced were outright scary illegal. But I liked the reasons. I realized that most people had no idea of Anonymous in any factual sense. I decided to find out. Yesterday, I went on their IRC channel to interview whoever was there to get an idea of the thinking and actions of Anonymous for India.

 

The first message on entering is automated.

Lulzboat- [#opIndia] "The Department of Telecom has ordered all internet service providers to block all file sharing websites, it's time for you to stand up and show that the corrupt government cannot stop you!"

I introduced myself on the #OpIndia channel and was immediately asked to return with a fake ID. I explained that i was not there to participate, but as a real person, blogger with a real identity wanting to find out more about them. I was quickly directed to another channel called #AnonymousINDIA - #OpIndia was not for chatting. Presenting snapshot quotes and answers gathered for some questions I asked them.

Operation India was started by NetCak3 and Vlad. BitMentor is an experienced and active Anon,and consented to speak with me. Participating in it is strictly individual choice. Anons themselves as individuals under a collective identity and there is no leader deciding for everyone. More like whoever wants to lead starts walking and everyone finding it interesting walk along. I was interested in what made BitMentor start Operation India and other anons join in. Corruption, censorship, illegal silencing that powerful entities get away with and such seemed recurring themes. The block on websites which also were extensively used in legal ways. Examples included VIMEO being used for sharing videos that were owned by the uploader or "open licence" or softwares like OpenOffice having official torrents for distributing. "we would not have cared if they had found the unloaders and arrested them [on piracy, illegal content]"

They spoke of three kinds of blocks. The first was a block of sites that could potentially pirate content. The second was to block sites that can allow anonymous sharing of content - Pastebin, for example. The third was specific targets. A list of blocked sites they got off the Reliance servers had a lot of urls containing "Satish Seth", which they say they investigated because it seemed curious and found no court order for (it is possible that there may be one that is not online). Satish Seth was an employee of Reliance arrested in the course of the 2G scam investigations. Pages including those on major news sites like telegraphindia and moneycontrol were on the list. Blogs on blogspot, tumblr, profiles on twitter, linkedIn. These pages open without any problem for me from an MTNL connection, which would not have been the case if this was a ban from a court order or DOT.

At first sight, I thought the sites were spoofs or insulting in some way. Possibly some may have been, but others seemed to be fairly innocuous. For example, the page on moneycontrol.com is the fourth page of the search results for the term satish seth. This page would be changing with news being added. Also, why not the first, second or third? Very strange.

In #OpIndia, the blocking of 400+ sites is something that is cause for alarm about the state of free speech. It indicates presumption of guilt unless proved innocent. And they are fighting to force such blocks back. However, the question in my mind was "by what means?" What plans does Operation India have? Answers ranged from DDoS attacks and defacements to protests on the ground. There was a whole range of alternatives ranging from the fairly straightforward to the illegal.

I asked them what justified the breaking of laws as a method of protest. Some answers I got, I don't buy. Defacements being peaceful protests in the sense of them not harming the server beyond replacing the front page or that DDoS attacks were the equivalent of thousands of people walking into a restaurant with a capacity for only hundred. Still others asked "where is the proof that we did it?" or that they were fighting things that were illegal or oppressive to begin with. In my eyes, this doesn't wash. You take thousands into a restaurant with a capacity for a hundred people with the sole purpose of paralyzing it? Entering a privately owned server without authorization and through bypassing security or exploiting vulnerabilities? It would be the real life equivalent of a person breaking into a home or office saying he did no harm, only painted all doors and windows black.

They know the risks. Indeed, the top of the page makes it clear "Anonymous Is no game, You must be aware of the risks and yet be brave, because this is a revolution. Some may fall but oure cause wont." The confidence as well as the outrage is clear. "We create every technology they use, and they expect to use it to control us. That is an idea of fighting the creator with his creation."

There are blurred boundaries. "soon we will hack computer of all corrupt Indians" said one. Some thought he was over reaching. Yet, there was a question a reader wanted asked about if anonymous would hack and get details of corrupt politicians with money in Swiss banks. Inside Anonymous or outside, disillusioned, angry minds think similar. But there is always the question of actual ability as well as the difficulty balancing what is right and wrong. For example, not all politicians are necessarily corrupt.

Which brought me to the question of how they decided targets. By consensus/vote - as expected. By now, I understood a little of this band of virtual Merry Men. But what happens when some Anons go converse to the interests of others? An example being the #OpKashmir that ran a few days ago, targeting Indian sites. It claims to represent the people of Kashmir independently of either India or Pakistan, yet the Operation targets onlyIndian sites - specifically those of the J&K government and the Army. While OpKashmir seems to be announced from an Anonymous website, the operation itself is claimed by The Hackers Army and their earlier post makes no mention of Anonymous. They had also launched #OPfreePalestine in which they hacked thousands of Israeli websites.

Vidyut, you never know who is behind #opkashmir

Some people use name of Anonymous just for personal grudges

 We will not only not hit it [Army website] we will do what it takes to protect it if required

While, to put it in their own words, they cannot stop anyone from being Anonymous, people on the #OpIndia were one voice on this. They see this as a political agenda which is not really what Anonymous is about. They have developed guidelines. They never target infrastructure. Which is how the websites for irctc, banks, BSE and media may up as suggestions, but are quickly negated as targets. This last - media - was particularly surprising, considering that there is a lot of bitterness about paid media (more on this in a bit), but they see the flow of information to people as infrastructure. However, these nuances (or eccentricities) are not very clear. For example, today, all day the RBI website has been solidly down. Is that because the common man doesn't interact with the RBI website? I don't know. We don't interact with the Army website either.

"Are the people on #OpIndia Indians?" Anonymous claims no nationality. However to "Are Indians on this channel?" the answer was a resounding yes. Actually, it was an unnecessary question by then. It was also clear from the chatter on the channel. This was a surprise when I first entered, because from all my reading of Anonymous, it had never occured to me that Indians were active in Anonymous. It had always seemed a Western phenomenon. But they operate as Anonymous and beyond nationality too and vice versa. Anons from Venezula defaced goodgov.in in support of Operation India.  Still, "Many Indians are there on most Ops world wide." took me completely by surprise.

We also talked about security. The lack of reporting of the defacing of the Big Cinemas Website ("if people suffer from these attacks, and they can't see movie 1 weekend, they would understand") was something that raised anger on behalf of people. As proof, the "hacktivists" had copied ticket booking details. According to BitMentor, this is a serious security breach. This ought to have been reported. While he says that their team did not take any Credit Card information, the fact that the vulnerability is there makes it within the realm of possibility that someone else could [or already did]. "BlackHats who wanted the data would have found it years ago." I don't know how easy or possible it is to retrieve or hack such information or to use it once they get it. I am simply reporting the conversation.

Anonymous had been bringing down government sites for a week without a word from the government - either acknowledgment or admonishment. However, the day after the attack on the Reliance website, the accounts for Operation India on both Facebook and Twitter were deleted. This cannot be an action by the social media service providers themselves because hundreds of anonymous accounts exist on both without any problem unless they are reported for child pornography or such from a very small and specific list of reasons. Incidentally, this would do nothing to secure the sites that got hacked.

Another thing that came up was the quality of CERTand Cyber Cell:

This claim directly led to a flood of tweets with screenshots clearly showing that the CERT website was down and for a long time.

BitMentor: Then we have CERT - Computer Emergency Response Team and the Cyber Cell - both these in India are over glorified. The reason they could solve many crimes is because the criminals were not good at it. Not because they were Shelock and Watson.

Me: What exactly would you say is wrong with them?

BitMentor: The problem with this idea is that you are never safe. Nothing wrong with them, the truth is that no one can do better, but that better is useless.

Me: So what should they do? There are cyber crimes happening

BitMentor: Educate people, and make laws to control the companies and not the internet. Eg: if law exist that a company can't store Credit Card data, no one can take it easily.

Had Anonymous been able to change policy or governments before? "SOPA and PIPA have been dropped". The government in Egypt changed. What did they plan for India?  They want to get the blocks on sharing sites reversed to earlier method of blocking urls instead of entire sites used by millions of people - many of whom didn't even watch films of the type being protected from piracy. However, there were idealistic long term visions too. The resolve was firm that any eroding of human freedoms would be fought with all means at their disposal.

When I shared the supportive messages and appreciation for their fight for freedoms, their reply was simple. "Tell them they are our power, help us fight". I remarked that while many may be angry over the same things they were fighting, most people would hesitate to cross legal lines or lack technical knowledge. "All of us are not techies. Ask them to spread message, to organize protests." "Speak up." "Tell them to do it before protesting is banned too" "They need to wake up, No country or place was ever saved by the government while the people slept."

They have a date - 9th June - by which they expect the government to reverse the blocks, or they have protests planned on the ground. Beyond that? It is anybody's guess. What is clear is that the Anonymous are in India and they are here to stay.

8

This is my reply to the notices by the solicitors of Lt Col (retd) Gautama Dutta and Anju Dutta with regard to my post. This post has been adapted to simplify reading on the internet without changing any words. You may read the original notice - Reply to notice from lawyers of Lt Col Gautama Dutta and Anju Dutta.

V – 117 - 2012 18.05.2012

BY REGISTERED A.D./ EMAIL
WITHOUT PREGUDICE

To,

Brus Chambers

8, Rajabahadur Mansion, 3rd Floor,

Ambalal Doshi Marg, Fort, Mumbai 400001, India

Email:

(1) contact@bruschambers.com

(2) newdelhi@bruschambers.com

Subject: Reply to legal notice dated 10.05.2012 (received on 15.05.2012) and legal notice dated 16.05.2012 (received by email on 16.05.2012)

Your reference: NIL
Your Clients: Lt Col (Retd) Gautama Dutta and Ms. Anju Dutta at Marine Solutions Distributions & Services Pvt Ltd., 54, Grants Annexe, 19/A, BK Road, Colaba, Mumbai – 400 005, Maharashtra, India

Our client: Ms. Vidyut Kale, A32/501 Yogi Park, Yogi Nagar, Borivali (west) Mumbai 400091

Dear Sir/Madam,

A. We are concerned for Our Client, Vidyut Kale and under instructions of and on behalf of Our Clients, we reply to your legal notice dated 10.05.2012 and 16.05.2012 forwarded by you as under:-

B. At the very outset, the allegations and averments made in the notice under reply, unless otherwise specifically traversed and admitted herein, are strictly denied and refuted. It is stated that your aforementioned legal notice is without any basis, unfounded and does not merit any consideration. In this connection Our Client wishes to draw your attention to the following facts:

i. Our Client is the author of the Blog “AamJanata” (accessible at http://www.aamjanata.com/ hereinafter referred to as “the Blog”) since April, 2006 and writes about stories relating to public interest. Not only do these stories contain her analysis but often also highlight new facts which are in public interest. This is evident from some of her recent blog posts which comment on issues relating to the safety of nuclear power, freedom of religion and dissent, healthcare etc.

ii. A visit to the Blog itself demonstrates that Our Client writes on a wide range of issues with the Blog containing a total of 735 (seven hundred and thirty five) Blog entries spread over 68 (sixty eight) categories and having 195 (one hundred and ninety five) tags. The extent of public participation the Blogposts have gathered can be gauged from the Blog Posts garnering more than 2274 (two thousand, two hundred and seventy four) comments.

iii. Due to Our Clients prolific writing on these wide ranges of issues, both the Blog and Our Client enjoy tremendous credibility. Towards this the Blog and Our Client’s work is often cited in several mainstream publications, including but not limited to:
a. The New York Times (Article dated March 27, 2012, titled as, “When Home Is No Refuge for Women”)
b. Tehelka Magazine (Column dated 17 March 2012, titled as, “The budget of addicts”)
c. Mid-day (Article dated as October 10, 2011 and titled as, “Pay up if you know what's good for you”)
d. YuvaTV (Panel discussion on the 8th May 2012 about "IT rules")
e. IBNLive (TV show on the 8th of May 2012 Titled "Face The Nation : has Satyamev Jayate redefined TV shows?")

iv. On May 07, 2012 Our Client received information that a wine and cheese party was organized on board the Belvedere vessel by your Clients which was subsequently raided by the Bombay Excise Department in which arrests were made on May 08, 2012 and then the accused were released on bail. The arrests include your Client, Mr. Gautama Dutta, These facts are stated in an article published in the Indian Express titled as, “senior official held for serving alcohol in yacht” dated May 08, 2012. Contents of the above mentioned Indian Express article are extracted below as they will be relied upon in the para wise-reply:

“An executive director and three employees of a boating company were on Monday produced in court under the Bombay Prohibition Act, for allegedly organising a wine-and-cheese party aboard a speed boat, without licence from the State Excise Department. They were granted bail on a bond of Rs 10,000 each.

Gautam Dutta, executive director of Marine Solutions and an Asian medallist was arrested on Sunday evening by the State Excise Department for allegedly having evaded paying the licence fee amount and procuring permission under the ‘one day provision’ for serving liquor in a confined space.”

v. As this issue concerned issues of public good, Our Client gathered several documents which formed the basis of a Blogpost titled as, “Sailgate : The party that wasn’t” which was posted on May 08, 2012 and accessible at https://aamjanata.com/sailgate-the-party-that-wasnt/ (hereinafter referred to as “the Blogpost”). These documents will be referred in the para-wise reply to various the statements by your Clients in the legal notice.

vi. Our client states that the Blogpost contains statements which emanate from facts and are in the public good, being even published in the Indian Express article mentioned above. The Blogpost does in no way harm the reputation of your Client in as much the post relies on facts already in the public domain through news reports and documents which have been gathered through filing requests under the Right to Information Act. Any comments or opinions which are contained in the Blogpost arise fairly and reasonably from these documents and facts the publication of which is in the broader public good.

C. Kindly find a parawise reply to your legal notice dated 10.05.2010 as under:

Reply to Para 1: The contents of Para 1 are denied. Our Client does not require any permission for the publication of pictures which accompanied the Blogpost. No claims as to infringement of any intellectual property are preferred or any details of ownership over the pictures have been provided by you. Additionally, the pictures which accompanied the post were merely used to pictorially depict yachts in general.

Reply to Para 2: The contents of Para 2 are denied and the contents of the Blogpost under reply are restated. Your statement that, “there was no party on belvedere”, is specifically denied by Our Client as false. The incident has been described as a, “wine-and-cheese party” even in the above mentioned Indian Express article. It is also pertinent to state in this paragraph your Clients have neither denied the raid by the Customs Inspectors on the Belvedere vessel or the subsequent arrest of Mr. Gautama Dutta.

You clients statement that, Mr. Gautama Dutta has never been accused or charged with the misappropriating of any funds is denied as false. It is pertinent to mention that Our Client does not state in the part of the Blogpost under reply that whether the misappropriation of funds was from government sources or not. Further reference is made to the certain documents mentioned below to substantiate Our Client’s statements:

  1. Notice for hearing at issued by the Yachting Association of India (YAI) to Mr. Gautama Dutta dated December 31, 2007 to appear before the disciplinary committee for the non-submission of bills and the non-refund of unutilized YAI funds for a period exceeding 32 months.
  2. Minutes of YAI Disciplinary Committee meeting held on January 21, 2008 which clearly record on Para 15 that, “not satisfied with the defense presented by Lt. Col Gautama Dutta (Retd), the committee recommended the following actions…. (a) initiate criminal and civil proceedings for case of non-submission of accounts and refund of unutilized amount with interest i.e. Rs. 14,71, 909.82 in connection with participation in Laser European Circuit during Mar-Apr 2005…”; and
  3. Letter by Admiral Monty Khanna to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports dated January 18, 2012 which notes and reports the abovementioned matter.

Also your Clients statement that, “Maj Gen S Dutta (retd) is not working with any reliance or ADAG companies” is untenable and contrary to the information put out by your Clients company website. YOur Clients company webpage at http://www.marina-india.com/team.htm states under the category, “Chairman – Major General S Dutta VSM” that, “[p]resently he is a senior vice president of Reliance ADAG, responsible for all construction activities.” In any case Major General S Dutta has not been identified by you as your Client and hence it is not understood how a response can be sent on his behalf. Inter alia, this clearly demonstrates the frivolous and the careless manner in which a legal notice has been sent to Our Client to pressure her to remove the Blogpost.

Reply to Para 3. The contents of Para 3 are false and are denied and the contents of the Blogpost under reply are restated. It is restated that you in your notice dated May 10, 2012 and notice dated May 16, 2012 have only stated that you have been engaged by Lt Col (Retd) Gautama Dutta and Anju Dutta in their personal capacity and not as owners or employees of Marine Solutions which forms a distinct and separate entity. Hence, it is not understood on what basis, claims and clarifications on behalf of Marine Solutions being made in your notices. Moreover, the imputations which flow from your Clients response is that Our Client has incorrectly stated that the yachts which are imported by Your Client are also owned by it, however Our Client has nowhere stated that the Your Clients owns the yachts and has only stated that out of 42 vessels imported by Marine Solutions, 36 are not been registered. It is also pertinent to point out the statements made by Our Client should be seen in the context of proceedings against Marine Solutions on issues of multiple registrations for the vessel ISOLA. This is clearly recorded as per a letter dated April 20, 2012 from the Office of the Chief Surveyor and Marine Engineer, Maharashtra Maritime Board.

Reply to Para 4. The contents of Para 4 are false and are denied and the contents of the Blogpost under reply are restated. It is further stated that, your Clients statement that, “the allegation that Lt Col Dutta received any amount / commissions from the foreign supplier of such boats and/ or that the firm of marine solutions was used as a conduit for receiving any such funds is totally incorrect and false” does not deny the factum that an allegation exists on record as to the improper purchases of receipt of commissions for the Supply of such boats. These allegations are interalia contained in a report dated June 03, 2005 written by Commodore Amarjit Singh Bajwa and addressed to the President of YAI (hereinafter the Bajwa Report). The contents of the report are not being extracted or quoted since this report has not been previously published publicly; However Our Client reserves its rights to do so at a later stage. Moreover it is pertinent to note that Our Client has only stated in the Blogpost that, “[t]here were allegations that Gautam Duttta…” rather than making any positive statement on these allegations. The factum of the existence of these allegations is undisputed and appears from the Bajwa Report which has been referred in this paragraph.

Reply to Para 5. The contents of Para 5 are false and are denied and the contents of the Blogpost under reply are restated. The statement, that your Client, “Lt Col (Retd) Gautama Dutta is not aware of any report of a financial impropriety involving him” is incorrect and false. The documents stated in the Reply to Para No. 2 clearly record copies being dispatched to your Client. The Minutes of the YAI Disciplinary Committee meeting held on January 21, 2008 even record your Clients presence. Additionally there is a news report in The Times Of India dated 22.12.2008 relating to Tian yatch pursuant to which a show cause notice dated --.02.2011 bearing reference number CIU/GEN/Misc-109/2008 was issued by the Commissioner of Customs to your Clients for the evasion of duty payable to the tune of Rs. 28 Crores. With respect to your Clients statement that they were, “not part of the Indian team that participated in the above mentioned international event in Birmingham and the Ireland Enterprise Worlds 2004”, Our Client it has inadvertently referred to the Ireland Enterprise Worlds 2004 instead of Laser Class European Circuit 2005. All statements otherwise with respect to this are accurate as it emanates from the Bajwa Report.

Reply to Para 6. The contents of Para 6 are false and are denied and the contents of the Blogpost under reply are restated. Here it is pertinent to mention that as per the response of Swati Girls Hostel located at AFI building, near Bombay Hospital, Dhobi Talao, Mumbai, your Client’s name appears in the hostel register as being the legal guardian of Lt Gen Tejinder Singh’s daughter Ms. Nahiya from the year 2003 to 2006. As per your Clients statement, that, “Gautam Dutta’s YAI membership was not terminated”, it is stated that the Letter dated January 18, 2012 by Admiral Monty Khanna to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports clearly records, “In addition, in the case of Lt. Col. (Retd) Gautama Dutta, a decision has been taken by the YAI General Body to terminate his Life Associate Membership of the YAI”.

Reply to Para 7. The contents of Para 7 are false and are denied and the contents of the Blogpost under reply are restated. Our client has never stated that your Clients are guilty or have been convicted of any offences and has merely stated that accusations have been made for financial impropriety against your Clients. This has been established on the basis of various documents which have been referred in the reply to various paragraphs of your notice above.

Reply to Para 8. The contents of Para 8 are false and are denied and the contents of the Blogpost under reply are restated. Our client is in the possession of the harbour craft license of MB Godiva (BDR - IV - 01546 ) dated November 16, 2010 issued by the Mumbai Port Trust which clearly prohibits commercial use of the motor boat. Hence it is not understood, how the “requisite permissions” could be taken with respect to purported trip on the MB Godiva to, “take a few Warburg Pincus executives to JNPT”. Moreover, the Hindustan Times article referred by you as absolving all blame, clearly points to the contrary as it states, “Shete said, ‘The men did not have the requisite permission for landing at the JNPT jetty though. On confirming that they were on an official visit, permission was given to them.’”

Reply to Para 9. The contents of Para 9 are false and are denied and the contents of the Blogpost under reply are restated. The contents of the Blogpost which have been referred to in this paragraph are concerned directly with the absence of permissions for the vessel ISOLA. In this respect the Reply to Para No. 3 may be referred to. It is also pertinent to state that Our Client is not concerned or connected with Mr. Dharmesh Thakkar and claims, if any, may be taken up by your Clients directly with him.

Reply to Para 10. The contents of Para 10 are false and are denied and the contents of the Blogpost under reply are restated. Since your Clients are not the Times of India group it is not understood how claims are sought to be made in your notice on their behalf. It is also restated that the contents of the Blogpost are accurate and constitute fair comment on issues of public interest which are based on documentary evidences.

Reply to Para 11. The contents of Para 11 are false and are denied and the contents of the Blogpost under reply are restated. Our Client states that the Belvedere vessel is a SeaRay Sundancer 330 which has the capacity to stock the alcohol as mentioned in the Blogpost. This is clear from the marketing material of the SeaRay Sundancer 330 which mentions extra large wet bar.

 

Reply to Para 12. The contents of Para 12 are false and are denied and the contents of the Blogpost under reply are restated. Our client has only stated, “politician” (in the singular) and not “politicians” (in the plural) as has been stated by your Clients. Our Client has definite information as to the name of this politician however at its option is not disclosing it at present.

 

Reply to Para 13. The contents of Para 13 are false and are denied and the contents of the entire Blogpost are restated. Our client has not made any statements recklessly and scurrilously with a view to defame your Clients. The contents of the Blogpost emanate interalia out of documents which have been referred to in this reply and are clearly in public interest. These documents and references are due to the meticulous research carried out by Our Client. Additionally, Our Client has published your Notice dated 10.05.2012 prominently on its Blog to present a fair and balanced view of the entire matter, however at the same time this does not in any way constitute an admission.

D. Even though the notice dated 16.05.2012 does not contain para numbers we have numbered them for convenience in respect of which kindly find a parawise reply to your legal notice as under:

Paragraph 1 “This has reference to the article “Sailgate: The Party that Wasn’t – contributed by: Vidyut Kale” on May 8, 2012” published on your webpage/blog under the name “Aam Janata” i.e www.aamjanata.com wherein you have published defamatory article which is baseless and twisted with the intent to sensationalise and the same is to your notice.”

Reply to Para 1. The contents of Para 1 are denied to the extent that the Blogpost is denied to be defamatory, baseless and twister with the intent to sensationalise. In this respect the contents of the Reply to the Notice dated 10.05.2012 which are stated above may be referred.

Paragraph 2 “We note that till May 15, 2012 the article yet remains on your site and that your site and that our notice dated May 10, 2012 to you has been published in your site and no apology tendered.”

Reply to Para 2. The contents of Para 2 are denied as false. The Notice dated May 10, 2012 was only served on Our Client on May 15, 2012 and your client is put strict proof in case it pleads service earlier to that date. On receipt of the notice dated May 10, 2012 on May 15, 2012 Our Client prominently published the notice the notice on its website on the following URL (https://aamjanata.com/sailgate-letter-from-the-solicitors-of-lt-col-retd-gautama-dutta-and-anju-dutta/). Further, the notice dated May 10, 2012 does not at any place request an apology from Our Client.

Paragraph 3 “As per Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules, 2011. Rule 3 which reads as….. [Extracts Rule 3 which is omitted]”

Reply to Para 3. The contents of Para 3 are not denied in as much Rule 3, Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules, 2011 is quoted. However, it is not understood as to how Your Clients have sent a notice dated May 10, 2012 claiming Our Client claiming to be the author of the Blogpost and is then latter relied upon the abovementioned rules to then claim that Our Client is also an intermediary. Both these positions are inconsistent as a person can either be an Author or an Intermediary.

Paragraph 4 “We request you for the immediate removal of the said article/publication – Sailgate: The Party that Wasn’t – contributed by: Vidyut Kale under rule 3(3)(b) Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules, 2011 failing which our clients deem the same to be done knowingly hosted and published by you albeit with malicious intent.”

Reply to Para 4. The contents of Para 4 are false and are denied. However, Our Client has taken down the Blogpost within 36 hours of receipt of this notice with a view to bring a closure to the matter. Since your notice identifies Our Client as an intermediary, consequent to the takedown it now is exempted from any liability under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

E With a view to bring a closure to the matter Our Client has already taken down the Blogpost on 15.05.2012 and has also prominently published the legal notice dated 10.05.2012 as requested by your Clients. Kindly note that this is without prejudice to Our Client’s rights and in does not in any way constitute as an admission. These actions are conditional on your Clients agreeing to withdraw your legal notices dated 10.05.2012 and 15.05.2012 immediately. Our Client would like to state that it will not be apologizing for authoring the Blogpost since it was in the public good and constitutes fair comment. Moreover, since Our Client has prominently published the legal notice dated 10.05.2012 on its Blog it is reserving its rights to publish this reply in order to present a fair and balanced view of the entire matter.

F. In view of the above, you are hereby called upon to withdraw your legal notices dated 10.05.2012 and 15.05.2012 immediately. In case you initiate any legal proceedings against Our Clients, based on the facts stated in the said legal notice, the same may be initiated at the peril and cost of your Client and shall be dealt with by Our Clients as advised. Please take notice and advise your Client accordingly.

Yours faithfully,

[APAR GUPTA]

PARTNER