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An article by Shehzad Poonawala debunked several cover up propaganda myths spread by BJP about the 2002 Gujarat Riots and got taken down. Here is the article.

This article by Shehzad Poonawalla was originally published on DNA as "Mamata Banerjee calls Narendra Modi 'butcher of Gujarat'; here are 9 mythbusters on 2002 post-Godhra riots". It got taken down. Naturally, it finds a home here.

For those who have developed “selective and motivated” amnesia about the truths of 2002 riots in Gujarat and are suddenly buying into the myths being perpetrated by Narendra Modi's PR machinery, here are a few myth-busters to refresh your memory and perhaps your conscience

Narendra Modi surrounded by security and fans

Myth no 1: Post-Godhra violence was brought under control within 2-3 days by Narendra Modi’s government

Truth: “The violence in the state, which was initially claimed to have been brought under control in seventy two hours, persisted in varying degree for over two months, the toll in death and destruction rising with the passage of time.”

Source: Final Order of the National human Rights Commission chaired by the very respected Justice JS Verma, available here

Myth no 2: Gujarat Police acted fairly by taking action against rioters from every side

Truth: “We women thought of going to police and telling the police as in the presence of police, the houses of Muslims were burnt, but the police told us 'to go inside, it is doom's day for Muslims”

Source: PW219 testimony which was admitted as part of Naroda Patya judgment that led to conviction of Mayaben Kodnani, Narendra Modi’s cabinet minister who led murderous mobs during 2002 riots. It is available here.

Myth no 3: No conspiracy by the Gujarat government; post-Godhra violence was a spontaneous reaction

Truth: “A key state minister is reported to have taken over a police control room in Ahmedabad on the first day of the carnage, issuing directions not to rescue Muslims in danger of being killed.”

“Voter lists were also reportedly used to identify and target Muslim community members”

Source: Report of Human Rights Watch, April 2002, Vol. 14, No. 3(C). Available here

Myth no 4: Modi allowed a fair prosecution of those accused in rioting and hence even his cabinet colleague Mayaben Kodnani was convicted

Truth: “The modern day 'Neros' were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected.”

“Law and justice become flies in the hands of these “wanton boys”. When fences start to swallow the crops, no scope will be left for survival of law and order or truth and justice. Public order as well as public interest become martyrs and monuments.”

“From the facts stated above, it appears that accused wants to frustrate the prosecution by unjustified means and it appears that by one way or the other the Addl. Sessions Judge as well as the APP (Shri Raghuvir Pandya, the public prosecutor in this case at the time was a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and contested elections from Ward 20, Vadodara in the 1996 Corporation Elections on a BJP ticket!) have not taken any interest in discharge of their duties.”

Source: Supreme Court in Zahira Habibulla H Sheikh And Anr vs State Of Gujarat And Ors on 12 April, 2004 CASE NO.: Appeal (crl.) 446-449 of 2004. Available here

Myth no 5: Narendra Modi never justified post-Godhra killings

Truth: “Responding to queries regarding various statements attributed to him by the media, Mr Modi denied citing Newton’s law. Nor had he spoken of “action-reaction”; he had wanted neither the action (at Godhra) nor the subsequent reaction. When we cited footage in Zee to the contrary (Annexure 4A), there was no reaction from Mr Modi”

Source: Editors Guild Fact Finding Mission Report dated 2002. Available here

Myth no 6: Narendra Modi speaks only about development in his speeches. Even after 2002 riots, his speeches were never laced with communal poison

Truth: Narendra Modi’s reported speech: “For several months, the opposition has been after me to resign. When I did, they did not know what to do and started running to Delhi to seek Madam's help. They realised that James Michael Lyngdoh, the Election Commissioner of India, is their only saviour.Some journalists asked me recently, ''Has James Michael Lyngdoh come from Italy?'' I said I don't have his janam patri, I will have to ask Rajiv Gandhi. Then the journalists said, ''Do they meet in church?''. I replied, ''Maybe they do.'' James Michael Lyngdoh came and visited Ahmedabad and Vadodara. And then he used asabhya basha (indecent language) with the officials. Gujaratis can never use such language because our rich cultural heritage does not permit it. Then he gave a fatwa ordering that the elections can't be held. I want to ask him: he has come to this conclusion after meeting only members of the minority community. Are only minority community members citizens of India? Are majority community members not citizens of this country? Is the constitutional body meant only for the minority community? Did he ever bother to meet the relatives of those killed in the Godhra carnage? Why didn't he meet them? Why didn't he ask them whether the situation was conducive for polls? Why? James Michael Lyngdoh ( says it slowly with emphasis on Michael), the people of Gujarat are posing a question to you.”

Source: Reported speech of Narendra Modi, September 30, 2002. Available here

Myth no 7: Narendra Modi never applied for a US Visa (when it came to light that he was denied one)

Truth: “The Chief Minister of Gujarat state, Mr. Narendra Modi, applied for a diplomatic visa to visit the United States. On March 18, 2005, the United States Department of State denied Mr. Modi this visa under section 214 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act because he was not coming for a purpose that qualified for a diplomatic visa. Modi's existing tourist/business visa was also revoked under section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 212 (a) (2) (g) makes any foreign government official who "was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom" ineligible for a visa to the United States. The Ministry of External Affairs requested that the Department of State review the decision to revoke his tourist/business visa. Upon review, the State Department re-affirmed the original decision.” This decision applies to Narendra Modi only. It is based on the fact that, as head of the State government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, he was responsible for the performance of state institutions at that time. The State Department's detailed views on this matter are included in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Report. Both reports document the violence in Gujarat from February 2002 to May 2002 and cite the Indian National Human Rights Commission report, which states there was "a comprehensive failure on the part of the state government to control the persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state."

Source: Statement by David C. Mulford, US Ambassador to India, March 21, 2005. Available here

Myth no 8: Vajpayee never asked Modi to observe “Rajdharma”, did not rap him for 2002 riots

Truth: “In comments which appeared to back criticism of the state authorities, Mr Vajpayee said he would speak to political leaders about allegations that they had failed to do their job. "Government officials, political leaders, need to respond to the task. The constitution guarantees equal rights for all," he said.The state government is controlled by the BJP, and the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, has come in for particular attack over the way the authorities reacted to the violence. At the Shah Alam camp in Gujarat's commercial capital, Ahmedabad, Mr Vajpayee said that the Godhra attack was "condemnable" but what followed was "madness". "The answer to madness is not madness," he said in an emotional speech."The duty of our government is to protect the property, life and honour of everybody... there is no scope for discrimination," he said in an apparent reference to allegations that local officials had turned a blind eye to the killings.”

Source: Vajpayee says riots “shameful” – BBC News report April 4th 2002. Available here

Myth no 9: It's not sheer opportunism that well-known Modi-baiters like Smriti Irani, have today become his cheerleaders

Truth: "Smriti Irani who unsuccessfully contested from Delhi's Muslim-dominated Chandni Chowk constituency in the April-May parliamentary elections, blamed Modi for BJP's recent electoral reverses. "Whenever people mention Gujarat they only talk about the riots and try to corner the Gujaratis on the issue. So, in order to maintain the respect that I have for Atalji and the BJP, I won't hesitate to take this step( of going on a fast to seek Modi's removal) ," she said."

Source: Times of India report dated December 12, 2004. Available here

These myth-busters took me just one hour to compile. So it's quite surprising that none of the stalwarts who interviewed Modi, (some of whom saw the events of 2002 unfold in front of their very own eyes), never counter-questioned him further and exposed the glaring gaps in his "rebuffed" narrative. Much like Smriti Irani, I guess, each night they must be saying to themselves "Hey Ram"....

22

Here is how I see the Lok Sabha Elections unfolding. If you want a TL;DR version, we'll be going for this circus all over again, soon. This is merely about where we are headed right now.

If you follow me on Twitter, I've said most of this there already. I was requested to write this post for some reason I can't fathom, but obliging the readers.

Indian National Congress

Not much to say here. They may get seats out of sheer inertia, but they have shown themselves incapable of thinking enough out of their patterns to expect much out of what has royally failed.

After 10 years of a notoriously private leadership, people have no idea what the country's leaders are all about. They do not want more of that, and that is the problem. Rahul Gandhi is trying valiantly to fix this, but it is too little, too late.

The musical chairs with the buck prevents it from stopping anywhere, and while the UPA2 government definitely pulled it off successfully, leaving the citizen too impotent to nail them and get answers, the voiceless people have an unerring instinct to use their voice in the one place it does damage - the polls. They do not want another round of looking foolish for being wronged, because no one has done wrong.

The final nail in the coffin will be the Frankenstein's monster they have unleashed on the country. They HAVE profited by pointing out to the Hindutva extremists and projecting themselves as the only available sane alternative for the country. The monster they were riding has now bucked them off and trampled them and is devouring them alive as they are held immobile.

Bharatiya Janata Party

Yep. The Frankenstein's Monster is growing even as it rots from within. BJP is not going to make an independent government. At best (and extremely unlikely) is an NDA government. I doubt this government will be of adequate strength to impose Modi on the country.

Chances are, Modi may never become an MP. His clinging to his Chief  Minister's chair even at this late date indicates that being Chief Minister of Gujarat and not going into the Parliament is still an option. I imagine Modi will not become an MP if he cannot be PM. He needs the power that comes with the Prime Minister's position (let's forget about Dr. Manmohan Singh for a moment) for major ass covering that is coming his way. When his cases in the Gujarat riots hit the Supreme Court, he is going to need an act (all puns intended) of God that a mere Minister cannot conjure up.

So, for Modi, this is a make or break gig, which currently looks more break than make. If Modi does win, it will be a blow to democracy, but a tribute to his advertizing skills.

The successful winning over of the corporations that formed cartels with UPA has worked well. Whether it is cheap lands, or opaque handshakes, Modi has got the top 1% of corporations in India controlling most of the power to put their eggs in the BJP basket instead of UPA. Where he once had to reach to a foreign firm to make himself look good in spite of relentless Indian media scrutiny, he can count on Indian media to cover up for him now.

That said, the psychological brute force wielded to make this possible has alienated him to many within BJP - particularly the seniors - left allies unsure of where they stand (witness allying with Shiv Sena while rejecting MNS, but getting Raj Thackeray to do a Rakhi Sawant tour of Indian media - where his party has no particular say with regard to National Elections). The sheer amount of stretching of truth that has been needed crumbles on scrutiny, and the development myth shakes at every communal message. The rest is a downhill of tu-tu-main-main, veiled communal threats and massive exhibitions of disregard for Indian constitution and laws. It doesn't help that most things they accuse others of turn out to be true about themselves.

The carpet bombing of the country is based on the new "education products" of adveritzing and management, where you believe that pushing your brand in everyone's face is what gets people to buy it. Unfortunately, for this theory, Parle G is the world's largest selling biscuit, so try guess how much it gets pushed in people's faces. The failure of education that divorces it from observable reality is ironically what will save India this election.

I disagree with Arvind Kejriwal that Modi losing Varanasi will mean that he cannot be PM. If Modi can win Ahmedabad, he will merely use spin doctors and still be PM if NDA can form the government. On the other hand, if NDA cannot form a government, or the Modi lobby cannot convince all allies to make Modi the PM, then even if Modi wins both his seats, he will abdicate both to continue as Chief Minister in Gujarat and opt for a PM whom he can dictate (Rajnath Singh seems to be promoted these days). He entered politics as CM and he will exit it rather than being a part of a team led by someone else.

Even if BJP wins, once this rush of money fades away, the party is going to splinter and bring down the government. The writing is on the wall - which is one of the reasons BJP is opting to install Modi puppets in as many seats as possible, even at the cost of dislodging senior leaders with mass bases - to survive when the fallout starts. Kirron Kher saying that Chandigarh was a seat to win for Modi isn't an accident, this is her highest attraction for the Modi lobby.

Togadia is a supporter of Modi. Ignore the spin doctors. I'll believe Togadia is not a Modi supporter the day he tells people not to vote for Modi or BJP under Modi. Don't hold your breath. Togadia is thrilled at the success of Gujarat riots under Modi and knows well that Modi is now completely dependent on the nuisance value of zealots to stay out of prison. Modi doesn't have to like Togadia to be useful. Witness his complete silence on the communal messages from his party. At best distancing himself and continuing to work to present a development smokescreen. Why in the world would Togadia have a problem with that? He's already said that Gujarat will be a completely Hindu state and Modi pretended not to hear it a week after Modi called for wooing Muslims. Modi calls Togadia's threat against minorities in majority areas as "irresponsible" - not a wrong view to have. Merely a wrong thing to say.

It is the classic good cop, bad cop routine, where both cops are herding you to the same destination. You are disgusted by Togadia? He is Modi's enemy. Voting for Modi is the best way to hit at him. You adore Togadia? Have patience. Gujarat model is growing.

This is basically the complete reinvention of India on the cards and will not happen easily. Unfortunately, with the kind of deals with the devil BJP has done to make it possible, it won't die easily either. One way or the other, India is destined to suffer from the choices already made.

The good news is that parts of the corporate consensus on Modi are hedging their bets. This indicates a possibility that they may not support him beyond the election if he fails - but work with whoever wins. The others remain devoted to Modi. This faction will leverage nuisance value against any non-Modi-led government that forms. A comprehensive defeat of BJP will end this farce. It is unlikely given the kind of money poured in and the sheer diversity of manipulations employed.

A third front

This is possibly the best thing that could happen to India in this stage. A third front with or without a decimated Congress (not with Congress as largest party). It is not looking very concrete at the moment, but given the sheer political splintering in the country, if it doesn't happen now, we might as well forget it.

Aam Aadmi Party

Aam Aadmi Party is the wildcard this elections. It has in its wake a swathe of broken stereotypes and naysayer predictions. It remains to be seen if the skepticism of a media that doesn't even have an entry in its surveys for a party with 450+ candidates joins the debris of the AAP rise.

Given the distortion of news on the Aam Aadmi Party, it is difficult to make an estimation of their impact on the ground, which is probably a good thing, since a poll showing AAP getting very few seats in Delhi (probably doctored) saw a massive wave of media negativity against it in Delhi Assembly Elections. Regardless, news about AAP could be accurate, distorted or reported by AAP themselves resulting in wild fluctuations in terms of its ability to represent what is going on. So cannot get a sense of what their prospects are.

Going by poll surveys, they get between zero to five seats. Others say double digits, which is as disparate as 19 and 99.

If we are to go by the amount of resources BJP has invested in discrediting AAP as a viable option for people (far more than that for discrediting the Congress, which is in theory the real contender and the largest party in country), one would imagine that they are serious competition for BJP - which would put it between 160 seats by my guess and 250 seats by BJP supporter claims. This, of course assumes that BJP spending on hate campaigns is determined by data from campaigning that identifies threat and not random fixation (which is also possible - BJP is not very sane these days - in which case, this source of behavioral data would be useless).

The other part of the AAP threat to BJP of course is that AAP will have ready support from several parties if it chooses to form a government, and it will be out of "cartel control" so to say, since on a National level, AAP will hardly have no alternative except the BJP mirror Congress. Entities that have traditionally allied with BJP have appreciated AAP, including Raj Thackeray and Mamata Banerjee - who had also endorsed their calls for RTI for political parties through ALL MPs from their party. They may not support AAP now, but they have made their appreciation clear in the past, and if AAP is in a position better than those holding their support strings? Who knows? Navin Patnaik, Nitish Kumar, Mayawati have been seen as vaguely hopeful, even. CPI-ML is actually endorsing Kejriwal in Varanasi to aid in defeating Modi. If AAP is in a position to form a government with support, there is going to be no dearth of support, because smaller parties, like the people of India had no real choice beyond BJP-NDA and Congress-UPA either so far. So far AAP claims to be independent, and it genuinely is, when it comes to chasing their manifesto. But this doesn't mean that it won't pull off a Delhi surprise again, particularly if it means keeping both Congress and BJP out of power.

THIS IS THE REAL THREAT OF AAP TO THE POLITICAL CARTELS.

Of course, this is dependent on how many seats AAP gets. It could indeed get five. But the risk is there, because at this stage, no one knows.

But the cartels are taking no risks. In Varanasi at least, it appears as though BJP, Congress and SP are leaving each other alone to target Kejriwal.

Regardless, AAP is unlikely to form a government with a clean majority, and anything less is going to collapse under the nuisance value of cartels who do NOT want AAP to reform their cash cows into oblivion.

AAP should also consider the possibility of supporting a third front if it forms, if it results in Congress and BJP being in opposition. This will create space for reforms that allow more action against political cartels.

It will also provide some stability aganst the combined nuisance value of the two biggest parties and their owners

This is basically stuff I've said on Twitter over time. No idea why people want me to put it all in one place. I'm neither an "expert" nor using real statistics. Merely observing nuances that indicate what may really be happening.

Might be interesting to check back in a month, though 😀

1

One should never underestimate the power of denial. Modi suporters are comparing Gujarat with Maharashtra (unbeaten champ of farmer suicides) and claiming that Gujarat does not have a problem. Wait a minute. Not so fast. Being better than the worst is hardly leader material. If it were a classroom (compulsive associations from ranking - left over trauma from the education system), better than the worst student often doesn't even pass. So let us take a look at the situation.

The argument is that farmer suicides are not as bad as Maharashtra. I'm not even going to try and debate that. For a state to get as bad as Maharashtra gets they would have to completely stop caring about farmers.... like Maharashtra does (and the population is larger too). My question is, are farmers doing well in Gujarat?

To begin with, let us be clear that there are farmer suicides in Gujarat. This is the NCRB data. (Data for 2013 is not out yet)

YearFarmer suicides reported
2001594
2002570
2003581
2004523
2005615
2006487
2007317
2008526
2009588
2010523
2011578
2012564

On the face of it, the numbers of farmer suicides in Gujarat appear to be somewhat constant. Beginning at 594 in 2001 going as high as 615 in 2005 and dropping to 317 in 2007 to finally 564 in 2012 according to latest available data. If we look at it mathematically, Gujarat achieved a drop of 30 suicides from the 2001 number. It may not have been a dramatic drop, but it ain't the end of the world either.

But wait. Gujarat lost almost a fifth (18% - lest someone accuse me of exaggerating) of its farmer population between 2001 and 2011.

YearCultivators
20015802681
20114746956
 Difference−1055725
 % of original−18%

So we are basically seeing similar numbers of suicides in a drastically decreased population size.

But wait. This is not all.

When the policies do not care for farmers, and the focus is on profiteering at the cost of the people, a new kind of "science" mushrooms up. It is called "Creative statistics". Or is it art? Whatever it is, it most certainly should be a post-graduation specialty, since it seems to be a very lucrative field.

It is not easy defending pro-corporation and anti-farmer policies year after year. Some kind of damage control is needed to show that farmers are harmed as less as possible. Leading GDP state and national farmer suicide champ Maharashtra achieves this by recording as farmer suicides only farmers who own land in their own name. So, the 45 year old son of an 80 year old agricultural land owner, who does all the farming and risks all the debt and commits suicide when all fails.... is not a farmer suicide. The farmer who takes land on rent, suffers loss and can't reply debt or pay dues and commits suicide.... is not a farmer suicide. The brother who helps his brother in the field and both suffer losses and he commits suicide is.... you get the idea. When there was outrage over this brazen fudging of farmer distress, Maharashtra started recording ‘Farmer’s relatives suicides,’ or “non-genuine” suicides. That didn't dent their winning streak.

Chattisgarh had more than 7,500 farmer suicides between 2006 and 2010, averaging 1,567 per year. 18,375 farm suicides between 2001-10. In 2011 they "fixed" it by declaring ZERO farmer suicides, and "4" for 2012. West Bengal averaged 951 farmer suicides per year between 2009 and 2011. In 2012, it did the clever thing and did not submit any data. Mamata Banerjee declared on TV channels that farmer suicides were a Maoist conspiracy.

Gujarat doesn't do something this obvious and the "presidential style" of election politics isn't the only thing it copies from the United States. It reports the suicides reported as suicides transparently. Only.... there is no compensation for farmer suicides, while accidental deaths of farmers get one lakh compensation declared by a benevolent state under the Janta Juth Accident Insurance Scheme. It doesn't take much genius to guess how the death gets reported, particularly if the suicide was because of debt. Sometimes police record it as an accident even if it is a suicide, and farmer's families have fought battles in courts to set the record straight.

Bharatsinh R Jhala was a citizen nominee for RTI Awards 2009 for his tenacious investigations into farmer deaths in Gujarat. He revealed that a total of 6055 farmers were shown to have died in accidents, out of which only 1909 of the farmer households had managed to get insurance claims (under Krishi Bima Yojana) passed after these accidental deaths. One also wonders how 6055 farmers can die in accidents without alarm.

Considering that a large part of farmer distress is also in losing agriculture land in the name of "development", it is anyone's guess if the development hit farmer gets recognized as a farmer if he commits suicide once his land is sold to the state - and he no longer farms.

But this is speculation. Gujarat state dismisses such news or questions as "politically motivated".

“Every time someone commits suicide in a village, Congress workers rush to the home of the deceased and persuade his family to sign a paper saying their family member had committed suicide because of crop failure,” ~ Babu Bokharia

Apparently massive farmer deaths in accidents is not so abnormal for a ("high risk" ?) profession like farming. I imagine crops eat farmers who don't put enough fertilizers or something in large numbers in Gujarat. But a farmer committing suicide? Impossible.

What cannot be denied is furious farmers renewing their agitation against the Gujarat state to retain control of their fertile land that produces export quality wheat.

The Park Street rape incident was in the news again. Not for getting justice, but because an MP somehow thought that it was a matter of misunderstanding between a prostitute and a client

"... That was a different case altogether. That was not at all a rape case. It was a misunderstanding between two parties involved in professional dealings. Between the lady and her client,"

Earlier Mamata Banerjee had called the incident fabricated and accused the victim of belonging to the "Left Wing". Both women, incidentally. Clearly justice in Trinamool Congress led West Bengal is a matter of whether you belong to the right party.

The comment has come as the country is unprecedented in its criticism of the treatment of women in the wake of the Delhi gangrape of the physiotherapy student and insensitive comments by politicians are further inflaming tempers. Kakoli Ghosh TMC MP

Oh well, at least the incident progressed from being false to being a misunderstanding. Perhaps by next year, they will understand that even if it is a sex worker, a rape is a rape.

5

I have lampooned our government often over censorship and it is a Congress Government [each word is one among dozens of links on this blog criticizing our government on regimenting free speech]. This is because it is the UPA government in power. The BJP aint smelling sweet on this though I made the mistake of ignoring them.

Today, the BJP supporters online are vocal in criticizing government censorship and being condescending with anyone not supporting the shining ideal - "absolute" freedom of speech, with Twitter flooded with criticism of the Congress for using censorship for political purposes. While this cannot be disputed - our government is indeed trying to regiment dissent into compliance in various ways - both online and offline, the high moral ground currently taken by the BJP, in my view is little more than a farce when the only time it is heard is when accounts affiliated with their interests are blocked. This, in my view is not a fight for right to freedom of speech and it is pressure to reverse blocks to protect their own interests.

The washing hands off any responsibility for the condition of our freedoms of speech in my view is rubbish. BJP has played a role in censoring Speech, which it conveniently ignores now, when it wishes free speech for its own.

The first major instance of internet censorship in India was when the website Dawn.com was blocked in 1999 during the Kargil War. Rediff had posted a workaround. The IT Act didn't exist then, but here is how it was done anyway.

VSNL Acting Chairman and Managing Director Amitabh Kumar toldRediff "Yes. We have blocked the site. But it is under instruction from higher authorities." When asked about the legality of the order, Kumar said "We have done it under the authority given to us by the Indian Telegraph Act."

The next year itself, the IT Act passed. I was living in Manali when the IT Act of 2000 was passed and a mighty puzzled dehati when all of a sudden all the cyber cafes started warning of watching pornographic or "obscene" content on their premises. It was the starting point of the government moralizing use of the internet. The 67th point in the Information Technology Act described offenses:

67. Publishing of information which is obscene in electronic form.

Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and also with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees.

Their hounding of Tehelka for their Operation Westend expose is probably on par with the Wikileaks hounding by US - for exposing grave wrongs in defense forces too. Accusations of "ISI hand", "fabricated videos", etc - that BJP supporters jeer at today coming from Congress politicians have been a part of that persecution. Today their supporters are furious about blocks on Twitter profiles that still leave them with the ability to get their word out and have no impact on their journalism.

There was a fair bit of extra-legal, unaccountable censorship legalized by this at the discretion of various officials and without court orders. A letter by Seema Kazi in the Hindu in 11 November 2000 titled "Covert Censorship"  describes censorship of her emails without any court order or specific reason provided beyond "Muslims have links with Pakistan and because of reasons of security". She had stopped getting emails from MESN.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and Pramod Mahajan was the Minister for Information Technology - BJP - in case you are interested.

Flash forward to recent years. The IT Act got Amended in 2006 and 2008. The IT Rules passed with as little concern for free speech as the original act and amendments - BJP was sitting in the opposition. During the time the IT Rules passed, the BJP was actually stalling everything under the sky, Internet users were fighting tooth and nail to prevent them. If the second independence of India has to be fundamental freedoms, organizations and campaigns like CIS-India, SFLC, Save your voice, Internet Democracy and independent journalists and activists and lawyers.... are your REAL freedom fighters none of whom find even passing mention as BJP supporters suddenly become torch bearers of your online voice.

BJP has been part of the problem. This current holier-than-thou is obscene and an insult to those fighting for freedoms for ALL. Look at the categories for Free Speech and Censorship on this blog itself and I was a very, very minor player writing about Free Speech among many other things. There are dozens who dedicated themselves to researching, speaking up, leading campaigns and continue now too. Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and friends went on fast in protest of the IT Rules, which was actually jeered at as "drama" by many BJP supporters.

The IT rules passed without challenge - BJP major part of opposition and yes, Congress major part of government. There is no lily white on this.

MP Rajeeve has valiantly continued to speak for our rights. He tabled an anullment motion for IT Rules. When the motion was due for debate in the Rajya Sabha, I was a fresh recipient of a takedown notice for an article describing illegal activities in sailing for "defamation". Taking a huge risk, I publicized the notice on top of the post and used the full 36 hours available to me to actually publicize the content at risk to draw attention to the problem with the IT Rules. Financially broke and up against powerful people, it was no minor thing to risk provoking further legal cases against me or possible attempts to censor my blog altogether. I lost count of people who told me to stop drawing attention and take down the post and not be stupid - even though I was wrongly targeted, but I did it anyway.

The post went viral. Lots of people including BJP supporters publicized it as an outrage. And it was. Few, other than MP Rajeeve were interested. Arun Jaitley pointed out problem with words used to define content that could be blocked. Made comparisons with the Emergency. Members of other parties like NK Singh ( JDU), Tirchy Siva, D Raja(CPI) and others  explained the problems with the rules and how its untenable to censor the internet. That is it. The motion was defeated.

However the serious points raised made Kapil Sibal agree to wider consultation. This consultation was held at fairly short notice on 2nd August 2012. It was supposed to include MPs and stakeholders. Civil society was not invited in spite of attempts to get an invitation. However Prashanth from SFLC still managed to attend. Out of 25 MPs invited, only 2 attended - neither of them from the BJP. They were independent MP Rajeeve Chandrashekhar from Bangalore and MP Derek O'Brien from Trinamool Congress. However, with stakeholders including representatives of Yahoo, ISPs and more, the objections raised were far more robust and a new and wider consultation was promised by Kapil Sibal.

This is where Free Speech in india currently stands. The government has given itself widespread rights to censor. BJP, whose supporters are absolving their own leaders and lampooning the Congress have been a part of getting us here. To claim big innocence and support for "absolute" free speech - apparently overruling laws of the land and what not when own affiliates come under the axe is the height of hypocrisy. That too for problem areas, when the blocks were applied with the interest of safety of citizens.

Interestingly BJP's anti-censorship stand extends only to the government. Their official organized efforts to consolidate control of online media have also resulted in the largest online rash of pure thugs I have encountered; who engage in abuse of political figures from other parties, gang up with on critics of BJP, often with extremely coarse language and in general leverage nuisance value and mental harassment to the point of people having to resort to blocks and being careful of what they say. These accounts work in groups when they attack and are usually anonymous profiles while real profiles disseminate propaganda and cast moral slurs on dissent without getting into actual trolling. This is social censorship - persecution into silence. Attacks on dissenting opinions include absolutely anyone who criticizes the BJP in any way from regular citizens to jounalists. Many of those profiles are currently wearing black DPs in protest of censored Twitter accounts that were at best briefly not accessible directly as web pages while continuing to function otherwise.

Many of these same people arguing for "absolute" free speech point to the US Laws. Actually most overnight free speech activists know the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution better than the one in India. The right to offend is being defended by the usual defenders of the right to be offended and persecute for it. Examples were given of the Mohammed cartoons and the pastor who burned the Qran. Same people were part of the outrage against a young man who put up a photo of himself with a foot on a Shivling. "Absolute" is clearly open to interpretation. That man has dozens of cases filed against him all over the country for it.

Great analyst moralizers are talking of Narendra Modi's moral superiority on Free Speech [black profile image on Twitter in protest too], of all things, where journalists were beaten up and put into hospital by police when they covered inconvenient things.

The answer to that is not actually zero as the question implies, but "unknown" could be zero, could be more. Good subject for RTI. Also, there is the small matter that Modi isn't elected into a position to officially censor yet. With this logic Mamata Banerjee is also pro-freespeech. Besides, if people can be attacked by the state in real life and troll teams online who needs legal actions?

ANHAD is a socio cultural organization started in 2003 as a response to Gujarat Riots in 2002. It is registered as a trust campaigns for democratic rights. When they complained against the BJP IT Cell for persecution with filthy abuses (no surprise, since attacking any reference to the government role in Gujarat Riots is a prime troll target), this June, their office was raided by the Cyber Crime Cell and three activists were jailed overnight [MUST READ] with claims that cyber crimes had been committed from their IP address a full year before on the 18th June 2011. The Cyber Crime Cell refused to detail their crime to the activists, but spoke to media saying that it was related with the Sanjiv Bhatt case. ANHAD was threatened with confiscation of three computers, when last year they owned only one.

BJP clearly didn't get the memo where free speech isn't about allowing what you want to see alone, but also upholding the right to speech in the face of disagreement.

What happened in the past is past. If BJP supporters NOW realize the value of Freedom of Speech, it would be far better if they spoke to their leaders - who get votes from them and forced them to join the fight for freedom of speech, defeat the IT Rules, force amendments in the IT act, and the First Amendment of the Constitution itself. If a piddly little MNS can force actions on their government when the reasons are right, the BJP excuses of not having majority are rubbish and a brazen attempt to not only not do the right thing, but actually ask for votes if you want it done.