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10

Update: @Kapsology on Twitter raised some doubt about a missing line that I did not understand. Given the volatile nature of opinion around this issue, here is the original email trail @MPunjab1 speaks about in the article for anyone interested to download and independently verify. Original email trail regarding accusations against Shalini Gupta

With reference to the following hit piece by Ajaz Ashraf: Read the controversial emails by Prashant Bhushan's sister that pushed AAP to breaking point

Let me expose the lies in this hit piece one by one which will prove one of the following is true by the time you're done reading my analysis:

  1. Ajaz Ashraf has access to the original emails yet chose to deliberately twist & lie in order to malign Shalini Gupta.
  2. Ajaz Ashraf does not have access to the original emails and was simply passed selective sections (cut-paste) and "used" to plant a hit piece.

Para #2 - Lie #1

This strain had been caused by two emails sent by senior leader Prashant Bhushan’s US-based sister, Shalini Gupta, to members of the AAP GlobalGroup, which consists of 700-800 NRI contacts of the party.

FACT: No such email or message was sent to AAP Global which is the Google Group for NRI volunteers from all around the world.

Instead, there was a private exchange between at the most 10 members of the Chicago chapter related to AAPs "Adopt a Constituency" program. The entire article takes that exchange out of context with the sole purpose to malign Shalini Gupta.

Para #2 - Lie #2

In the messages, Gupta tacitly discouraged members from donating money to the AAP’s war-chest on the grounds that Kejriwal had fielded corrupt candidates in the Delhi assembly elections.

FACT: Either the "journo" does not know the meaning of the word tacit or is trying to create drama & innuendo where none exist. Shalini Gupta states as a matter of fact that there is controversy around some candidates due to volunteer objection and the matter has been referred to the Lokpal.

In light of the allegations on several candidates, she advises the group that:"We need to support candidates who we are confident will work in public interest if elected."

I suppose such statements can be construed as "discouraging members from donating money" if you have a vivid imagination!

Para #3 - Observation

Her emails sent shockwaves through the party higher echelons, ...

OBSERVATION: Why did the party "higher echelons" NOT take IMMEDIATE and STERN action against Shalini Gupta after experiencing SHOCKWAVES? Why did they wait till *after* the make-or-break elections to "expose" Shalini Gupta and that too through a "leaked" piece in the media?

Why did the "higher echelons" risk losing the NRI supporters who constitute 30% of AAPs funding and play the role of a major moral, intellectual and financial support base? If the statement in the article is to be believed it smacks of gross incompetence on part of the "higher echelons."

Para #4 - Lie #3

Her emails demonstrate that she was not willing to wait for the verdict of the AAP Lokpal, Admiral (retd) L Ramdas, on the suitability of 12 nominations that were being challenged.

FACT: Nowhere do Shalini's emails (there are 3 in the entire exchange) demonstrate that she was not willing to wait for the verdict of the Lokpal. Infact, Shalini is giving a mature "heads-up" by stating that:

  1. There are serious complaints against some candidates
  2. Party Lokpal will be examining the charges
  3. Tickets of some of these candidates may have to be cancelled.

Also see the FACTs for Para #5 - Lie #4 below.

Para #5 - Lie #4

Yet emails sent by Gupta on January 5 and January 6 show she had already made up her mind that Kejriwal was guilty of violating party norms by choosing dubious candidates.

FACT: Nowhere does Shalini pre-suppose guilt. In her Jan 5 email she asks one volunteer to obtain the feedback on a candidate under consideration by contacting the ground team in Delhi and volunteers who have worked with the candidate in the past.

In her Jan 6 email, Shalini Gupta categorically states the following:
"That is the mandate to the Lokpal now to determine if these candidates pass the moral standards test expected of an AAP candidate."

Once more, it takes the vivid imagination of a "journo" to conclude that this"demonstrates she was not willing to wait for the verdict of the AAP Lokpal"or "she had already made up her mind"

I'll stop here because I don't think such a poorly executed hit piece deserves further effort on my part to debunk it. Trust me, the rest of the article can be dismantled line by line if one has access to the original email chain. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader once Ajaz Ashraf demonstrates the ethics of his profession by revealing the full email chain that he claims to have access to! 😉

The onus is now on Ajaz Ashraf and Scroll.in to come clean by disclosing the entire email chain AND revealing the source which planted this hit piece through him / them.

Guest post by @MPunjab1 on Twitter

2

Given the events unfolding in the Aam Aadmi Party, AAP's Internal Lokpal's letter seems almost prophetic. This is the letter written by Admiral Ramdas to the leadership of the Aam Aadmi Party. The events of yesterday evening demonstrate how the thinking of those controlling power in the party has gone beyond comprehending caution. This is a letter that could have saved AAP if the Kejriwal camp had taken their own internal Lokpal seriously.

Dear Friends,

Please find enclosed a note that we have prepared for the PAC and NEC members as we will not be able to attend the meeting on Feb 26th at Delhi.This note contains some essential issues which I hope will be discussed during the meeting as part of the Way Ahead item for the party included in the Agenda. Wishing you a successful and constructive day together.

Admiral and Lalita Ramdas

NOTE TO THE PAC AND NEC FROM ADMIRAL RAMDAS

I am writing this note to members of the PAC and NEC today, to share with you some of my concerns and related issues regarding the governance of the party. I would have presented this in person on 26 Feb, but I am not too well and so this note.

As Lokpal of the party, I have often been called to do damage control to avoid the AAP ship from capsizing! Today I want to ensure that this ship will stay afloat to make many voyages in the years to come.

A Brief Recap

In end December 2014, there was a crisis situation brought about by Shri Prashant Bhushan’s unhappiness with candidate selection procedures and decision making processes. If not addressed, he said, he would be forced to resign from the party and go public. To contain this, a special meeting was called in Delhi on Jan 3-4, 2015 at which a decision was taken to refer the issue to the Lokpal, assisted by a specially selected team. Thanks to preliminary investigative work by this fine young team from across the country, I could finalise my own findings in time for the candidates to file their nomination papers by Jan 21st 2015.

This was not the first time that I had to use my good offices to defuse a crisis situation; the previous one being immediately after the explosive Sangrur NEC, [August 2014}. In response to my letter, members of the PAC and special invitees, agreed to take a pledge not to go to public and to stick together and show a united face until the Delhi elections were over.

In early January once again I had occasion to address a note to key players and those attending the Delhi meeting, urging them that this was not the time to allow inner differences to surface in the public domain. Once again I assured them, especially those who raised the complaints, that we would certainly address the several concerns being raised with respect to candidate selection procedures, decision making , committee meetings, financial transparency, ethics, after our government took charge in Delhi.

Had the inner conflicts exploded in front of a hostile media, there is no telling what the impact could have been on the unprecedented election results.

I had hoped that the thumping results of the recent elections would have restored a positive energy in the party and that many of the mutual suspicions would have been set to rest, given that all of you had pulled together, despite differences, to deliver a stunning victory. Alas, this was not to be, and most recently while in Delhi during the results and swearing in, I also spent many hours in many difficult conversations where many of the old ghosts were constantly raising their heads.

As Lokpal, I have therefore gone beyond giving a narrow judicial verdict on the ethics and standards pertaining to candidate selection alone. Rightly or wrongly, I have taken upon myself an expanded role, namely, acting as an elder statesman to ensure that the party remained united throughout this period. I did not join the party only to preside over a potential split down the middle. My paramount interest is to nurture AAP and its potential as the only political entity in the country today which can change the way politics is practiced. I see my role as one who will unambiguously point out that mistakes and compromises have been evident in many areas -and from all sectors - with no single person exempt from some element of responsibility for the present impasse.

THE WAY FORWARD

I would urge all in the NEC to play the role of an objective, wise and statesman like  body whose role will be to play with a straight bat; be impartial, heal and cement the wounds and fissures. I hope that the members of the NEC will not take sides, but be able to build mechanisms and find people who are acceptable to both parties to find solutions. The press and media and our opponents are waiting like vultures to rip AAP apart at the slightest hint of rifts and dissension within. We need therefore to address the points detailed below.

1. Our spectacular performance in the recently concluded Delhi elections implies that we have to provide good governance in Delhi. It has raised hopes and expectations to a new level among the people of Delhi. This means that we will have to perform and make sure that we do not fail them.

2. National Convenorship  – To discuss and arrive at creative and visionary decisions on redefining the role of the National Convenor of AAP. Can the Chief Minister of a state and the National Convenor if he/she be the same person be in a position to discharge both the the duties efficiently?  Do we need co-convenors? What kind of profile are we looking for? Whether we like it or not, today we are a national party; and we can no longer keep our vision limited to Delhi or some region within the capital. The Delhi results have also impacted at the national level; and expectations have been aroused amongst all AAM AADMI supporters outside the capital and across India.  We need to recognise this and programme ourselves accordingly.

3. Dissent and Democracy – There has been criticism within the party regarding decision making and inner party democracy. This needs to be further analysed by an independent, group who should carry out an internal audit and make suitable recommendations in keeping with the Constitution and the high standards of probity and ethics that we have charted for ourselves. Most importantly let us not rush this; these processes take time; and as we have done with Mission Vistaar, so must it be with the next round of change and expansion.

4. Volunteers and management of volunteers  – Volunteers are our life line. We neglected and took for granted our volunteers and their commitment, especially after the national elections in 2014. This may well have been, one of the contributory factors for the emergence of AVAM.  We need to learn the right lessons from this experience and put in place robust mechanisms and people to handle this resource.

5. Conspiracy Theories , Trust Deficit and Communication Failures  – During the past six to eight months there has been an abject breakdown in communications and mutual trust amongst the topmost leadership of the party. This has in my view led to the growth of two camps within the party and loose talk about conspiracies. This is unacceptable and shows that we are no different from any of the parties whom we criticise so vocally. I sincerely urge the entire leadership of this party, especially now that we are also running a government in the capital city, to stop listening to rumours and to discourage colleagues no matter how close, who continually bring negative feedback about each other.

My comment comes from, over forty four years of experience in the Indian Navy, where lending an ear to a single mischief maker can create havoc within the organisation. There is no substitute for one on one dialogue to understand each other better knowing that we may also disagree. Managing dissent is both an art and an imperative.We have managed to keep this under some form of control and avoided an implosion within, until now. This has only been possible because of the untiring efforts by many well wishers from the party, people with extraordinary loyalty and integrity spread across the country.

6. RECONSTITUTION OF PAC AND NEC

We need an open discussion on how, when and whether bodies like the NEC, PAC, and even the National Council might need to be  reconstituted to better represent region/geography, gender, ethnic and other forms of diversity, as well as to reflect the current developments in the party.

I was both surprised and disappointed at the manner in which decisions were taken at the Delhi NEC meeting in June 2014, be it on expanding the PAC or inviting new members onto the NEC.  Such important decisions need far more rigorous methods and processes, and not the hurried, almost ad hoc tabling of names and a show of hands or voice votes to take decisions. If a system of setting up a search committee with agreed parameters and criteria can be set up for both these important core committee, it would go a long way in streamlining our procedures. For both bodies, we also need well thought through criteria of skills, experience, and qualifications, as also better representation on the key questions regarding gender, region and other diversity related  issues mentioned above.

7. SYSTEMS, DISCIPLINE, CONFIDENTIALITY AND ETHICS.

I have spent my life in a disciplined service, where secrecy and maintenance of confidentiality is  often a matter of life and death. Frankly I have been aghast at the way in which decisions taken in our meetings are leaked within minutes; where conversations are recorded and uploaded, and sting operations conducted with little or no accountability.

Every email and letter I have sent out seems to become common knowledge and often has found its way to the media! All of us who were at Ram Lila Maidan on Feb 14th heard each Minister take a separate oath of secrecy as he took office before the Governor in public view. This is not merely a formality but a sacred duty. We need to discuss whether some form of inner party discipline is required within our own core committees?!

I daresay we could argue that a political party is not the same as a defence force. And yet we must all observe certain agreed upon rules and regulations, put in place systems to which we must all pledge allegiance and slowly but surely evolve into something of which we can truly be proud and where taking shortcuts even for winnability and exigencies will slowly be an exception and not the rule. We could then genuinely claim to be setting high benchmarks for the country in the future.

6. GENDER JUSTICE AND WOMEN IN AAP

Finally, last but not least, we need to make much efforts in the direction of becoming a genuinely Gender sensitive party which will do far more than pay lip service to women’s empowerment and ensure that we work to improve women’s visibility and participation at all levels. I personally find it difficult to defend AAP against accusations of being mainly a Boys Club especially when we were not able to have even one women in our team of Ministers! Women Empowerment and Justice has to go deeper and farther than mere security alone the Delhi Dialogue on Women was a good start. I hope that a group like AAP Shakti, who have been working systematically on a range of practical and supportive measures will be  treated as an important resource to help us move in the direction of genuine empowerment of women.

7. POLICY, THINK TANKS, AND LONG TERM PERSPECTIVES

The crazy period of headlong rush from one election to another is mercifully over for a while. This is a time for us to consolidate to return to our initial and path breaking dialogues on Policy, on the huge range of issues that confront our country. We need to have special groups that will create a pool of ideas, of projects and a road map both for Delhi and the country as a whole.

8. CONFLICT RESOLUTION, OMBUDS-PERSONS, SENIORS ADVISORY COUNCILS

The sheer time and energies that have been consumed in the past year and more in addressing various levels and kinds of conflicts and problems shows us that this is an area which will continue to exist and will continue to demand a council of elders, of people who can give of their time and wisdom, to anticipate, head off, and resolve, debilitating disagreements and conflicts.

CONCLUSION

Finally by way of conclusion, I wish to say that we are lucky to get this time to put our own house in order. This is not the time to go back in history or take any hasty decisions. We need to be statesmen like and work our way through this quagmire deftly and cautiously. After all just two years and a few months have lapsed since we formed a party. We are not magicians and the environment we have had to face is not one of our making!

We must accept with all humility, that we are all on the learning curve. It is important that we give out clear signals that all senior members of the party, primarily the PAC, are together and united. Let us be positive and not resort to any form of hasty action against our members. The leadership will have to carry the team together. Everyone has worked very hard to arrive where we are today and the country expects a lot from the party and we should not disappoint them and miss this golden opportunity.

Mrs Ramdas and I have also not spared ourselves over these months to keep the AAPship on an even keel. She joins me in wishing all of you Good

Luck.

Warm regards

L. Ramdas.

One wonders how long Admiral Ramdas will be allowed to continue as Internal Lokpal as well, given that he's questioned the holy cow Arvind Kejriwal holding both CM post as well as National Convenor. Not to mention the women free cabinet.

After all, if AAP can preach RTI compliance for parties but refuse to do it themselves, they can also preach Lokpal without trusting one themselves.

News media quoted Anna Hazare criticizing the Modi government on not fulfilling its promises re black money and Lokpal Bill. Here is a quote from January 29th, 2015 - Indian Express:

“Before he became the PM, Modi had promised to deposit Rs 15 lakh in every Indian’s account by bringing back black money. It has been eight months but none has got even Rs 15. Modi has refused to utter a word on black money and Lokpal appointment. There’s a huge difference between what Modi says and what he does,” he said, adding that he would soon launch a protest in Delhi against the central government.

Two days later, this ad is on the front page of the Indian Express (New Delhi edition). What appears to be a BJP campaign advertisement targeting Kejriwal also shows a photograph of Anna Hazare with a garland in the background. In India, a garlanded photograph has a specific symbolism - death. Photographs of living people are not garlanded as per Hindu belief.

Delhi, 30 January, 2015 Indian Express Frontpage
Delhi, 30 January, 2015 Indian Express Frontpage

Given that Anna Hazare has little to do with Arvind Kejriwal or his political party "Aam Aadmi Party", there appears to be no reason for Anna Hazare to be in the image - alive or dead. Nor does the text of the advertisement indicate any relevance.

BJP advertisement showing a garlanded photo of Anna Hazare
BJP advertisement showing a garlanded photo of Anna Hazare

Which leaves the mind troubled given the symbolism of the garland on the photo, and the position of the photo behind Arvind Kejriwal. It appears to be yet another of our government's menacing (but politically not incorrect) messages.

 

Update: Anna Hazare has said that he will complain to the Election Commission and file an FIR against BJP for the advertisement that shows a garland on his photograph. Here are screenshots from Total TV and AajTak. I will add links to videos as they become available.

Anna Hazare will complain against BJP to the Election Commission
Anna Hazare will complain against BJP to the Election Commission
Anna Hazare will file an FIR against BJP for cartoon showing a garland on his photo
Anna Hazare will file an FIR against BJP for cartoon showing a garland on his photo

 

Anna will complain to election commission about BJP
Anna will complain to election commission about BJP

3

I am a Aam Aadmi Party supporter. And tomorrow morning I will try to book my Tatkal tickets to Varanasi, on my way to support Arvind Kejriwal. As I sit in my balcony on the 9th my flat in Ahmedabad, my mind goes back to that day in 2002. I was in my teens then. That morning as sounds of murmurs woke me up I joined my family and relatives in the same balcony witnessing a mob demolishing a small stall with a public phone right opposite my flat operated by an innocent blind man. Right then i felt something which changed me and separated me from my family, friends and almost everyone I knew at that point in my life forever. Witnessing then the same mob putting a shop in my building on fire sealed something in me which made me feel like an alien in my land of living forever.

I write this, because I know what it feels like to be that alien in Ahmedabad, in Gujarat. That guy who despises the right wing fanatics, the politics of hatred and who cannot just understand how everyone around him from family to friends and everyone else support leaders and politicians who were responsible for the protection of its citizens but instead what happened was a genocide. I kept reading details about the genocide, harrowing tales of what human beings are capable of and felt tortured inside, more so, when everyone around me then was indifferent to it all. Being in your teens and not supporting BJP and Modi and living in the heart of Ahmedabad was not easy in those years. I would be afraid to put forth my views, would be embarrassed to express my sadness and anger at the deaths and following isolation of minorities in pockets of Ahmedabad amongst the friends and family who would revel and boast in these realities with a strange sense of joy which my naïve mind never understood. All sorts of justification blaming the administration, vote bank politics etc were given to me to justify the genocide and what followed.

It was not just these political realities which made me feel alone. Where I grew up, being nice and honest was a sign of weakness. Not being an expert in manipulation and corruption was considered a sign of stupidity. Times when these qualities or lack of them would come out of me in spite of my best attempts to hide them would lead to only ridicule. My parents would be warned in typical Guajarati way ‘ Tamaro chhokro bou sidho che, ullu banavta avadvu joiye’ ( Your kid is too honest, he should learn to manipulate people) . We were almost brainwashed into compulsorily admiring the Ambanis and Adanis then. Now that I look back everyone around me including the media had given them the image of powerful gods who are not to be questioned, nor to be looked in the eyes. They were the kings, along with the politicians supporting them, we were the loyal silent servants who are sucked dry. Asking questions of them, doubting them, was a crime and made you a communist. Whether it was farmer suicides, land allotment, etc etc everything was kept silent. As everyone in my school and college cheered Modi in the state elections, the voice of this silent Gujju amongst the many other millions went more and more silent. I felt tortured inside, I felt humanity was dead and the worst part was the loneliness. When you are afraid of these thoughts, those days when you feel so alone because of your thinking and morals that you hate yourself for them. When you desperately want to change yourself and curse yourself for failing at that.

On moving to Mumbai few years back, I felt a sense of relief, hoping it will be different, but it was not really different. When Antilla came about and everyone around me from Ahmedabad cheered it, I was again disillusioned. I could not understand how in a country with so much poverty and disparity of income, can such unimaginable abundance of wealth exist, and more so be cheered by the middle class. I felt sick when youth around me including me were told to look up to these ‘Successful’ citizens, they were a role model. The stories we read every now and then about the nexus of politicians, media, industrialists were hushed away and talking about it was stupidity. And about then the talks shifted to Modi becoming the next PM, the sounds were getting louder. As I travelled more and more, grew older, that voice which was choked inside slowly started getting louder. And angrier. And then it came. The Janlokpal movement. Those pent up emotions started to come out. Still slowly, with pessimism imbibed in us after a decade of banging in our heads ‘Nothing will change, nothing can change.’ The movement slowly died. The voices cheering Modi started going higher and higher. And then he arrived.

I do not remember my exact first memory about Arvind Kejriwal. But I think it was after the Janlokpal movement when I saw his Youtube videos from IIT and other places. I was stunned. I was numb. Being a middle class Guajarati who had lived in Gujarat most of the life, to ask questions, to talk the way he was talking was criminal. How could someone have so much audacity? How could someone say the truth? How could someone ask the Demigods questions? It felt too good to be true and I tried very hard to support the movement, first Lokpal and then AAP and never ever follow into the trap of supporting the person as that is the first step of disillusionment in the long run. But I failed. I am not only a AAP supporter but Arvind kejriwal fan. Screw logic and rationality. Enough of fear.

Now when I came to Gujarat just before leaving for Varanasi, I can feel a confidence in me, a sense of hope but above all I am not ashamed of myself anymore. I will no longer have a silent lost look every time someone in Gujarat will condescendingly ask me ‘If not Modi then who?’ after I criticize. I now have an option. I now have hope. Of a leader and party which stands for honesty and secularism. Of transparency and courage. Of not bowing down to rich corporate. Blood does boil at what Media is doing, what pessimists are doing, but there is hope. I feel sad when on the few interactions with old school friends I see an inexplicable but expected denial to look at facts, to not discuss, to still support the extremists and corrupt, but with time, they will find in themselves, if nothing else, the courage to accept and talk about truths.

Above all, what Arvind kejriwal has given to people like me is to courage to stand up and no longer be embarrassed about our honesty. Not be afraid of being termed stupid on admitting that I will not be corrupt. To have the strength to smilingly suffer instead of indulging in corruption. If he succeeds the generation after me will be taught that real smartness if to be honest, real success is kindness and inclusiveness, if Lokpal succeeds, if Swaraj succeeds the coming generation will again reclaim their right to ask questions, to demand justice, to have courage. I do not want to even begin to thank Arvind Kejriwal or try to put into words what I feel about him, how could you be thankful to a person who gives you the strength to accept your true self without shame? Or make you feel courageous enough to ask questions of anyone especially him. As a small thanks, I will be a part of his small army trying to fight impossible odds in Varanasi and take anything thrown at us by the opposition filled with goons. But as he has always taught, nothing is impossible, real courage is to fight when odds are laughably against you. When I shook his hands on his visit to Mumbai few weeks ago, when I heard him speak, saw the love people had for him and above all saw him have the courage to be in the middle of his people laughing away at all the security concerns I realized what it felt like to have a leader who will stay with you till the end, and for whom you can take a bullet without thinking twice.

My purpose to write this is to tell those confused youngsters all over, and especially those in Gujarat who have also been robbed of their views, voice and morality that it is ok to be who you are. It is ok to be different, it is ok not to be communal or cheerlead for fascists and corrupt when everyone else around you is cheering. Change is coming, it is time to come out and accept yourselves and not be silent anymore.

 

*** Guest post by Chintan Bhatt ***

1

The freedom of speech and expression is said to be the mother of all liberties. This right is recognized as a basic human right and is a constitutional guarantee in India.

Unlike the United Sates constitution, the freedom of the press is not found expressly mentioned in the Indian constitution. However, ‘press freedom’ has been culled out by the Indian judiciary as the country needs an informed citizenry. An informed and educated polity is essential for a healthy and vibrant democracy.

However, the power and duty to sell news is vested in the hands of a few groups. News can be suppressed and manipulated by these groups. The reporting can be biased and selective.

People - The Supreme Power

This country belongs to its people. The people are supreme. The opening words of the Indian constitution “We, the people” speaks volumes about it. The people of this country want a change. There is a huge expectation from the leaders and political class of this country. There is anger, disappointment and frustration as regards the state of affairs in the country.

Last year, the country witnessed the civil society coming out voluntarily in large numbers seeking a strong Lokpal bill to end corruption. It was the youth of this country who supported and participated in the movement. They used the internet and social media to plan and organize this massive movement.

The Lokpal campaign, made the government realize that news can no longer be hidden. Issues which the main stream media ignored and suppressed were discussed and debated on the social media networks. The movement demonstrated the power of social media. Undoubtedly, Internet and social media has empowered the people. It has given a voice to voiceless.

The country wants the ‘corrupt’ and ‘criminals’ out of its governance system. The country wants the ‘right to call back’ the non-performing representatives. The ‘Young India’, which constitutes the largest chunk of the population, think and discuss over the internet. Internet and social media networks have provided a platform for the youth of this country to connect and communicate. They are building hopes and aspirations of a better future. They are positive and optimistic of a better tomorrow.

The people have the right to know and the freedom to think, discuss, debate and criticize. They have a right to agree and disagree on issues.

We find reflections of all these thoughts on the internet and social media.

Free speech on the Internet

Art. 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right to hold opinions without interference and the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Internet has been recognized as a human right by the United Nations. Some nations have even recognized the right to internet as a fundamental right.

While the internet provides the facility for every person to speak his mind and engage in a dialogue, the Indian Government has devised a strategy of ‘invisible censorship’ to curb discussions on the internet. The government has introduced laws to arbitrarily block, ban and censor content. The corrupt ones in power fear the internet. Yes, and that’s how it should be. The people should not fear the government; instead the government should fear the people.

The country has been protesting against the undemocratic internet rules for more than a year now. (Read here and here) The international hacker collective, Anonymous in its phase II operation, (Read #OpRTI) has urged citizens to file applications under the right to information Act, 2005 and bring out every possible detail of the censoring activity taking place.

The fight for freedom of speech on the internet is a fight against the current establishment controlled by a few groups. The recognition of this right will transform every citizen into a publisher and broadcaster. The people are going to reign supreme and enjoy democracy in its real meaning.

The lassitude and lethargy on the part of the government in recognizing this right is thus understandable.

Shojan Jacob is an advocate. He holds a post graduation in Cyber Laws and Information security. He has challenged the internet censorship rules in the Kerala High Court. Read more on that Here and Here