Slimes Group Vice-Chairman Ameer Jain accused of molesting SOI employee Aaj Faker Shah? Breaking Faking News: Shehla Rashid

Guest Post by Shehla Rashid

Mar 21, Delhi: In a shocking revelation that has triggered panic amongst the media fraternity, renowned media tycoon, Ameer Jain, who is Vice-Chairman of the prestigious Parrot, Caveman & Co. Ltd, has been accused of sexual harassment by an employee of The Slimes of India newspaper, namely Aaj Faker Shah. Parrot, Caveman & Co. Ltd. (PCCL) is the group that owns Slimes of India, Slimes Now, Economic Slimes, Radio Tirchi, Movies Now and Then, Dhoom, Navbharat Slimes, Mumbai Broken Mirror and numerous other media outlets.

After the sexual harassment case filed by an employee of a major news magazine against its high profile editor some years ago, this is the most high-profile case of sexual harassment at the workplace in the media fraternity and is likely to result in a public spectacle, as the complainant, Aaj Faker Shah, has taken to Twitter to publicly make serious accusations of sexual assault against Jain. Normally, in cases of sexual harassment, the complainant must be accorded due anonymity. However, Shah reasons that he was forced to take this extreme step because the Slimes Group, in total violation of the norms prescribed by the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Act (2013), sat on his complaint, victimised him for speaking out against Jain and even threatened to sack him. This reflects the state of implementation of the Workplace Harassment Law, rules for which were notified in 2014.
After his accusations went viral, with Twitter users taking positions for and against Ameer Jain, the complainant, Aaj Faker Shah, a young employee, has now ‘protected’ his tweets. Attempts to reach either the complainant or the accused failed.

However, the Delhi Police has registered a case suo moto, and has started to investigate the matter, after instructions from the National Commission for Women. As part of preliminary investigation, the Delhi Police has requested Google and YouTube to furnish the search history of Mr. Ameer Jain, the defendant in the case. Highly placed sources in the Delhi Police have said that Jain’s search history hinted toward a dangerous tilt of mind, as his search history included a lot of content related to non-consensual sexual acts, child pornography, etc. This has led to tremendous embarrassment for the Slimes Group. The fact that the Slimes Group owns a disproportionate number of media outlets means that this issue is being completely blacked out from mainstream media. No electronic or print outlet owned by the PCCL is reporting the issue. The issue is, however, being reported by rival media groups that have now begun to see an opportunity to cause commercial damage to PCCL.

Besides all the embarrassing search items found in Ameer Jain’s Google and YouTube history, it is submitted by the Delhi Police in the High Court that the night when Aaj Faker Shah walked into Jain’s room and was sexually assaulted, the latter had been watching videos related to non-consensual sexual activity on YouTube.
Ameer Jain’s wife and daughter were confronted by mediapersons at the Delhi High Court where the case is being heard. Visibly devastated, Mrs. Jain refused to comment on the incident and asked mediapersons to show some sensitivity toward their family whose reputation is now being destroyed by the “careless attitude of opportunist media houses which thrive on sensationalism.” His daughter, Ms. Jain who is an artist said that “media must introspect before publishing sensationalist news that can harm the reputation of their family.” She was clearly disturbed, as the news of the case has led to a social boycott of the Jain family, as sexual harassment is an issue that our society takes very seriously, not to mention the stigma around cases of sexual harassment.
However, inside the Delhi High Court, the case took a strange turn. The defence lawyer accused Aaj Faker Shah of lying and called him “mentally disturbed”, a claim that the complainant’s lawyer completely denied. However, Ameer Jain’s lawyer produced medical bills that Aaj Faker Shah had submitted to his employer, SOI, in order to avail of medical reimbursement available to all SOI staffers. However, Aaj Faker Shah’s lawyer objected to the complainant’s medical history being raked up. Aaj Faker Shah is being represented by powerful Delhi-based lawyer, John Doe, who passionately argued that “unnecessary references to my client’s medical history is an attempt to divert the case from the fact that Ameer Jain has inflicted physical, sexual, mental and psychological violence on Aaj Faker Shah. What should be the subject of discussion is the violence against my client, and not his medical history. Also, it is totally unethical on part of Slimes Group to provide the details of my client’s medical bills to the defendant. Ameer Jain is abusing his position as Vice-Chairman of the group to divert the focus of the case from the treatment meted out to Mr. Shah, a young reporter who is struggling to make a life for himself in the National Capital, leaving behind his poor family in Bihar.”
Ameer Jain’s lawyer said that Shah had been on anti-depressants for a long time. He had been prescribed Flunil (20 mg) and Zolfresh (5 mg) on August 27, 2016. The first is used to treat depression and OCD while the latter is used to induce sleep. ‪On September 9‬, he was prescribed Lonazep that’s used to treat fits, panic attacks and agoraphobia (fear of public places). Shah had also claimed reimbursement for a drug called Pari 10, an anti-depressant.

Times look bad for the Slimes Group, but we hope that justice will be done.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

What you have just read is neither false, nor true, but a work of fiction and satire. 

But what if I had one million followers on Facebook and I were to write, without any proof or basis, that an employee of a major news daily, has accused the Vice-Chairman of the Corporation that owns the daily of molesting him? What if I were to write, further, without any proof or basis, that the Vice-Chairman’s Google search history has revealed that he looked up a lot of non-consensual pornography on the Internet? Also, what if I were to add another imaginary detail- that, on the night when The employee entered the Vice-Chairman’s room and was subsequently molested, he (the Vice-Chairman) had been watching child pornography on the Internet ? Obviously, such a news would create panic amongst the Vice-Chairman’s family members and cause loss of reputation to them. More importantly, what if Delhi Police were to clarify that the news is false? What if the police were to clarify that they never sought any data pertaining to the Vice Chairman’s search history from Google or YouTube, in the first place? This would clearly establish that my Facebook post, read by millions and shared by lakhs, was false, baseless, defamatory and malicious. The least that I would be required to do after such an expose is, apologise unconditionally and admit my mistake. However, if, instead of apologising or making up for the mistake, what if I go around cockily saying that, “If Delhi Police doesn’t have the Vice-Chairman’s search history, how do we know that he did not watch non-consent or child porn videos?”
Well, this is exactly what Times of India- India’s largest English daily- did. TOI published a fake news on its front page, insinuating that the missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed was inspired by ISIS and was eager to join ISIS, based on a fictional ‘search history’. When the Delhi Police refuted the story as baseless, as Delhi Police had never sought Najeeb’s search history from Google, Raj Shekhar Jha – the TOI reporter who filed the story- took to Twitter to defend his story with the ‘reasoning’ that precisely because Najeeb’s search history was unavailable, how could we say with certainty that he did not watch ISIS videos! It does not occur to Jha that he should apologise for spreading misinformation at such a massive scale and defaming a young student who is missing for over five months.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Also, the TOI story included a lot of unnecessary references to Najeeb’s sleep disorder and it went on to list the various ‘indications’ for some medicines, falsely insinuating that Najeeb was depressed, suffering from agoraphobia, OCD, fits, etc. whereas he was on medication simply for insomnia. In our little fictional piece above, the references to Aaj Faker Shah’s mental state as a ploy to divert attention from the issue of violence against him alludes to the attempts by Raj Shekhar Jha, in real life, to portray Najeeb as mentally disturbed and, thus, divert attention from ABVP’s role in the incident and the group violence against Najeeb by ABVP members.

To reiterate, the molestation story is fictional and is only a satire on the manner in which TOI has played with the reputation of Najeeb and his family, rendering them vulnerable to social boycott, stigma and even violence. The Times of India has produced exactly such a fiction and attempted, unlike me, to pass it off as fact. TOI must own up to this disaster and make up for it by prominently publishing an apology and taking all other necessary steps to compensate for the damage that it has caused. Najeeb Ahmed, his family and the readers of the Times of India, deserve nothing less than this.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Shehla Rashid is a research scholar at JNU, a student activist with All India Students’ Association (AISA) and is actively involved with the #BringBackNajeeb Campaign. She is a former Vice-President of the Jawahalal Nehru University Students Union

Free the Maruti Workers: Maruti Suzuki Workers Union

 

Guest Post by Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union

[This is a statement and an appeal by the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union condemning the unjust handing down of a life sentence to 13 workers of the Maruti Suzuki Manesar Factory for a ‘murder’ (of an HR Manager) that the prosecution could not prove that they had committed. Here too, the prosecution, and the judgement, relies on a chimera, ‘the reputation of make-in-india’ to justify a harsh punishment. Those who have watched this space will recognize that this recourse to figures of speech in the absence of evidence is a familiar move. It has happened before – to satisfy the hunger of a ‘collective conscience’ when a so-called ‘temple of democracy’ was attacked. This time it has been invoked to defend the ‘fake-in-India temple that houses the deity of a rising GDP’, which would of course otherwise be besieged by insurgent workers.

This text contains a hyperlink to a detailed reading and rebuttal of the prosecution’s arguments, which demonstrates how money and muscle power can always be an adequate replacement for legal acumen in the State of Haryana. Please do follow that link. For the further edification of our readers, we append a short video interview by Aman Sethi of the Hindustan Times of the special public prosecutor, which spins some imaginative legal theory and also radically updates our sense of class struggle. Please do have the patience to view that video. We promise that this will be rewarded. – Kafila Admin.]

Continue reading “Free the Maruti Workers: Maruti Suzuki Workers Union”

Hail the Students’ Struggle for its Victory in the Battle against Corporate Publishers : New Socialist Initiative

Guest Post by New Socialist Initiative (Delhi Chapter)

On 9 March 2017 three well-established academic corporate publishing houses, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor and Francis withdrew their copyright suit filed in the High Court against Delhi University and Rameshwari Photocopy Shop, a shop stationed at the Delhi School of Economics campus in Delhi University licensed by the University to carry out photocopying work. The suit that was filed in August 2012 on the grounds that photocopying material from books published by the above three publishers by university students, particularly in the compilation of coursepacks, constituted copyright infringement and revenue loss to the publishers. Right from the beginning it was clear this case was treated as a test case to instate a licensing regime, much like one that exists in the US and other First World countries.
Being the absolute primary constituency to be impacted by such a case and its possible outcomes, students of Delhi University were amongst the first to take up the battle against some of the most powerful publishing houses in academia. The ‘Campaign to Save D.School Photocopy Shop’ soon became the ‘Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge’ (ASEAK), reflecting the growing politicisation of the student community on the issue of the knowledge commons in order to resist an increasing attempt across the world to create a market out of it where it didn’t as yet exist. This can be seen in the case of Costa Rica as well where there was an attempt to make photocopying illegal, a move that was successfully opposed on a massive scale by students.
The students of Delhi University, organised as ASEAK, opposed the move through a range of mechanisms, mobilising students from class to class, organising public meetings, taking out protest rallies, campaigning against these publishers at the annual World Book Fair held in New Delhi, influencing public opinion through writing in newspapers, and last but not the least, taking up the legal battle in the courts. NSI hails the struggle of the students that brought to the centre of the debate questions of equity and justice within the arena of production and distribution of knowledge resources, challenging the private property regime sought to be implemented in the sphere of knowledge production by these big academic corporate publishing houses. 
For the last few years the primary site of the battle has been in the High Court at New Delhi. The publishers have received repeated blow after blow in this process as well, leading to their final withdrawal of the suit altogether. The win is a big victory and testament to the struggle of the students, backed by a legal team that has been seminal to the victory, along with support from the academic community. The case, that attempted to strike a ‘balance’ between private profits of the publishers and the rights of students to access materials in the pursuit of their education, has dealt a blow to precisely such a misconception that the two ‘interests’ are in fact of equal concern.
Along with students, who assert their right over the materials they access as part of their fundamental right to education, scholars, often the authors of these materials, have equally come out to state that there is no better reward for their work as intellectuals, as to be read by as many students as can get hold of their work, photocopied or otherwise. The emphasis of the corporate publishers in asserting absolute ownership over the works they publish, in a rare instance where the labour of writing a book is provided at no cost to the publishers, borne by universities, students’ fees and taxpayers’ money instead, is shameful and needs to be rejected at all cost.
NSI congratulates the students, lawyers, academics and concerned citizens who persisted in their resistance against the bullying tactics of big academic corporate publishing houses and calls on the academic community to engage with new ways of producing and sharing knowledge so as to create equitable, just and democratic structures of knowledge production.
EDUCATION OVER COPYRIGHT! KNOWLEDGE OVER PROFIT!

UAPA – A Video Dossier: Media Collective, Arun Ferreira &Vernon Gonsalves

Video by Media Collective, Article by Arun Ferreira and Vernon Fernandes

Fifty Years of Unreasonable Restrictions

Arun Ferreira & Vernon Gonsalves 

Soon after its adoption, the Constitution of India was amended in 1951. At the time several progressive judgements[i] by the Judiciary held that laws which curb fundamental rights are essentially unconstitutional and fundamental freedoms could only be curbed in the most extreme of cases. The First Amendment, countered this by amending Article 19 to add the word ‘reasonable’ before restrictions and to add ‘public order’ as being one more ground for abridging Fundamental Rights.

The evolution of UAPA[ii] has to be seen in the background of this gradual but steady constriction of Article 19 which guarantees the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, association, etc. Continue reading “UAPA – A Video Dossier: Media Collective, Arun Ferreira &Vernon Gonsalves”

Looking ‘Right’, Talking ‘Liberal’ – The Twists and Turns of Makarand Paranjape: Anirban Bhattacharya

Guest Post by ANIRBAN BHATTACHARYA

[This missive to Makarand Paranjape, who is a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, comes in response to his recent op-ed piece in the Indian Express where he comments on the events at Ramjas College, Delhi University on the 21st of February and in their wake, in Delhi University, on the 22nd of February]

Mr. Makarand Paranjape. In your analysis of the post-Ramjas fallout in Delhi University in Indian Express on the 4th of March, one can see that you have donned a “liberal” cloak. But there were way too many holes in that cloak to go without a counter and hence this response.

Continue reading “Looking ‘Right’, Talking ‘Liberal’ – The Twists and Turns of Makarand Paranjape: Anirban Bhattacharya”

Statements of Solidarity for Ramjas and DU: A Collation

Please find below a collation of statements of solidarity received by Kafila over the past fortnight since the shameful incidents of violence by the ABVP occurred on the 21st and 22nd of February 2017. These are from: Ramjas Alumna, Ambedkar University Delhi Faculty Association, O.P Jindal Teachers: Students and Durham University Politics and International Relations Society, U.S.A; and students and faculty at the University of Minnesota, U.S.A.

UMN STANDS WITH DU
University of Minnesota Students and Faculty

The statements are preceded by a short write-up on what Ramjas College has meant to its alumna, by ANUBHAV PRADHAN.

Nostalgia is made of more than just happiness. It is sulphurous too.

To many who spent three or more years of their life in Ramjas College, visuals of violence in and around it on 21 and 22 February 2017 have been a source of deep, personal shock. The footpath and the areas adjoining the college gate were often sites of lingering conversations between friends, offering moments of respite from studies, tensions accruing from impending exams, or relief to those who had just accomplished a hectic ECA festival and were there catching up their breath or exhaling smoke.

The ABVP struck twice, once attacking the college Seminar Room and then coming back the second day to attack students. In the hundredth year of Ramjas’ establishment, a college founded at a time when protest was an active ideal for most Indians, this singular episode of planned, institutional violence against students and teachers is a grim reminder of the brute silencing of interrogation, peaceful protest, dialogue and dissent being normalised across our colleges and universities, and in our society at large. The audacity with which these perpetrators and their ideologues brand entire institutions and diverse communities of students and academics as anti-national—and therefore fit recipients for their brute censure—also gives the lie to the intellectual and affective bankruptcy of a rapidly emergent cultural orientation premised on simplistic binaries of good and bad, right and wrong, national and anti-national. In a society—and nation—whose ideals are peace, dialogue, and inclusion, these attacks on students and teachers point to the deep ideological rot in the perpetrators’ conception of nation, nationality and nationalism.

As an alumnus of Ramjas College, I cherish the right to self-determination and open debate. I feel outraged that the students’ and faculties’ right to decide what discussion to hold and whom to invite for it within college premises was usurped in this manner. It is disturbing that this violence rippled across the campus as it were, with students being followed, identified and harassed in their personal spaces for having asserted their right to listen to discussions on Bastar and for not bowing down to bodily attacks perpetrated through stones and fisticuffs by members of the ABVP and their affiliates.

Most alumni like me are invested in our respective professions, but the foundations of study and work were laid for us by Ramjas’ teachers and the college’s vibrant culture of extra-curricular instruction. This experience has proved fundamental to our engagement with our immediate workspaces, surroundings, power structures, and our nation. Denying current and future students their right to freely and openly debate issues of their choice in fora of their choice is tantamount to denial of a basic academic right. Threatening and manhandling academicians guided by the spirit of enquiry towards generation of dialogue will prove detrimental to the quality of collegiate education in our nation. We collectively issue the following statement of solidarity with Ramjas’ students and teachers in this moment of crisis:

Statement by Ramjas Alumna

Continue reading “Statements of Solidarity for Ramjas and DU: A Collation”

Longing for the Future – Two Days with Penkoottu and AMTU at Kozhikode, Kerala

Kozhikode, Hotel Alakapuri, 4-5 March, 2017.

Kozhikode has always upturned my feelings about the male gaze. It is of course a cheerful, bustling, place, full of fabulously good-looking people of all genders. The cheeriness has a certain effortlessly defiant quality – already evident when you look out of the window as the train from the south pulls into the railway station, and see bright, healthy, merrily-swaying wild flowers raise their heads undefeated by the ferocious summer sun– wild sunflowers in hundreds, magnificent vines of kulamariyan flowers ( literally, ‘over-the-top’ flowers, but known here also, interestingly enough, as Antigone vines), creepers happily, constantly, and untiringly winding over  little piles of rubbish and covering them with short-lived if emphatic trumpets of mauve, lavender, red, yellow, and white.  You pass this eternal artwork-in-progress of the flowers and vines and city trash and enter Kozhikode, but realise that it actually tells you a bit about the men there only when you meet them. Continue reading “Longing for the Future – Two Days with Penkoottu and AMTU at Kozhikode, Kerala”