Wednesday, December 7, 2011

DEALING WITH NET OFFENDERS IN FOREIGN SANCTUARIES

B.RAMAN

In an article of August 7,2011, titled “A Venomous Glee Over the Internet” available at http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-a-venomous-glee-over-internet-sonia-barkha-raman/20110806.htm, I had drawn attention to some venomous propaganda being carried on in the Net against Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, Barkha Dutt and Sagarika Ghose, the well-known TV journos, in the wake of Sonia Gandhi’s departure to the US for medical treatment.

2.Even earlier, I had noticed a vicious campaign against Barkha Dutt by suspected Hindutva elements when she was in Libya. Some of them were noticed by me disseminating messages wishing that she will die in Libya. I remember warning some of these tweeters that if they did not stop this vicious campaign wishing for her death, I would be constrained to report the matter to the police. This campaign stopped thereafter.

3. It revived again after Mrs.Sonia Gandhi was taken to the US for medical treatment and Barkha defended Sonia Gandhi’s right to privacy. Whereas I did not go public over the vicious campaign against Barkha wishing her death while she was in Libya, I decided to go public with regard to the fresh campaign which was directed against Barkha as well as Sonia Gandhi and Sagarika Ghose. Hence, the above-mentioned article.


4. I had mentioned in that article that while those who indulged in such campaign seemed to be in small number their viciousness should not be ignored and suggested that instead of imposing any curbs on the misuse of the NET by these vicious elements, the Government should act against them under the existing laws.

5. I have always been strongly against any curbs on the use of the Internet by such elements not only because the curbs will be a violation of fundamental rights guaranteed to all citizens, but also because such curbs will be unenforceable. At the same time, I felt that some action should be taken against these elements under the existing punitive laws

6. In the US, wishing death in public for the President and other prominent personalities is immediately taken notice of by the Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other similar organizations and an enquiry initiated against the offenders.

7. We have been taking lightly the mischievous activities of persons expressing wishes through the Net for the deaths of prominent personalities. I felt that the time had come to act against such persons.

8. However, I was surprised by reports carried by our media during the last two days that Shri Kapil Sibal, the Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, had embarked on an intimidatory campaign against the service providers of social networking sites to demand pre-censorship and ban on such objectionable posts and tweets without following the due process of law. I strongly deplored his action and even suggested that someone should initiate a public interest litigation against him.

9. My suggestion was that the solution lies in a vigorous prosecution of the offenders after they had disseminated the objectionable posts and tweets tending to incite violence instead of preventing through arbitrary executive action.

10. “The Hindu” of December 7 has carried an interview with Sibal in which he has explained that prosecution of the offenders has not been possible because many of the offenders operate from safe sanctuaries abroad and they cannot be prosecuted under Indian laws. The only way of stopping them from misusing the Net for inciting violence is through executive action with the co-operation of the service providers.

11. This is a genuine difficulty of which I was not aware even though I strongly suspected that many of the Hindutva storm-trooper elements misusing the net for their vicious campaign were based abroad, particularly in the US.

12.Other countries also face this problem of elements operating from foreign sanctuaries misusing the Net for such campaigns. I am told that since action for prosecution is not possible, they have developed a capability for erasing such offensive postings and tweets that tend to incite violence. We should also think and act along these lines. Under the existing laws, the Government has the power to seize printed material that seek to incite violence.By enacting appropriate laws, the Government could arm itself with legal powers to erase posts and tweets that tend to incite violence. ( 7-12-11 )

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

7 comments:

ambi said...

Arre guruji. Bhavnaon ko samzho! Yeh toh hamara pyaar jatane ka tarika hain! Madamji, barkhaji how much we love them! Madam ji loves Indians a lot. N we love her equally. Saala! aap hamare feelings ko samazhte hi nahin ho yaar!

Mere mehboob mere pyaar ko iljaaam naa de. Hijr mein Id bhi manayi hain moharram ki taraha.

Vivian Richards said...

I have responded several times to the silly postings on Hindutva Stormtroopers, Mr Raman makes on this blog. He does not seem to listen. He needs to understand such posts make him look stupid.

1. Views supportive of cultivating Hinduness in India is not against the law. Nor is it encouraging violence against anybody. To suggest so implies Raman is a hypocrite.

2. Freedom of expression is a universal right. If Indian Citizen are provided this liberty in the US, why should Indian government not provide it to Indians in India?

3. I have still not learnt from the great strategic analyst (who predicted in 2009 that the UPA was a better party to run Indian than the NDA) what laws in the Indian penal code were violated by the Hindutva stormtroopers.

4. Anonymity on the internet is a fact of life. The times when a certain views could be massaged into the brains of willing public through propaganda are gone. People have gotten smarter. It is time Raman got smarter too.

6. Wishing someone dies is not the same as threatening a person with death. There is a big difference. threatening people is a big NO-NO, which I believe should not be tolerated under any circumstances. But there is nothing wrong with wishing that Sonia Gandhi dies. That is perfectly acceptable and legal.

5. I have still not gotten proof that Sonia/rahul have indeed relinquished their italian citizenship. Can Raman do a blog post on that?

Bahukutumbi Raman needs to do a lot more for his views to become credible again.

I need to inform people that this blog now requires registration and does not allow anonymous comments. I can understand why this has happened. After this post, I will likely be blocked. But I do not care. I do not care for this blog much anyways.

nri2008 said...

Dear Ramanji,

Thanks for the wonderful views in this blog which are just, fair and civil in their ternor and tone.However and whatever might be the opposition for a particular politics/cause of party or their leaders a legitimate and balanced view should not denegerate into anonymous personal attacks against public persons and personalities.

As you have rightly pointed out legitimate critcism in valid and welcome as long as it is decent and within laws of the land.

Warm Regards

Ram

constant said...

What is it with B Raman & Burka D ? Have tried to defend him many times but of late it is either senility or the fact that he just does not get it (could also be the Stockholm syndrome with the 2G family ) , probably best if we wished him well and just ignored him.

ARAK said...

Dear Raman,

I disagree with you on prosecuting people for expressing their thoughts however objectionable they may be to your or my tastes. While Clause (2) of Article 19 of the Indian constitution may circumscribe freedom of expression subject to maintaining public order, decency and morality, such restrictions can be imposed only by a duly enacted law and not by executive action.

In the absence of such laws, people are free to express their thoughts and you shouldn't be in the business of promoting thought policing. Using existing laws for prosecution wont work if you refer to prior case history such as Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, Union of India v. Assn. for Democratic Reforms, etc.

Even in the USA it is no crime to wish for the death of the president. Yes, there will be an investigation by the Secret Service and FBI, but that is to make sure the expression is not backed by intent.

I expect better from someone of your stature.

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guest said...

If B Raman really represents Strategic thinking and wishes to censor violent thinking, he should closely read the message of the Koran, life of Mohammed, the Hadith and about Ghazwa E Hind..rather than chase 'Saffron' terror or 'Hindu' internet warriors. For an intelligence man his analytical skills are supposed to be way better than he is displaying in that article. Now after censorship, he will crib how the GOI didn't understand what he really meant..which was nothing. Stopped reading him for strategic inputs long back.