Guest Post by Sameer Khan
It was an amazing sight to see Bal Thackeray draped in the National Flag like a decorated war hero on way to his funeral among the sea of followers and curious onlookers. More surprising were the news anchors, media persons and other flag bearers of our proud democracy, singing paens and eulogies on Prime Time TV for two days. I wondered at the reason for this laudatory outpouring from the news anchors, some of whom had been, not too long ago, at the receiving end of the fury of the deceased man
As a person belonging to a minority community who grew up in Central Mumbai in the 80’s, it was extremely painful for me to listen to the news anchors as they heaped praises on the dead cartoonist. It was a shocking sight for someone who had witnessed the searing effects of the policies and the politics of the man that had targeted not only my community but many others, and had also eroded the secular and multicultural society in the city of my birth. Continue reading On Mourning and Memory: Sameer Khan
Nagarjun was an avant-garde poet of Resistance in Hindi. His poem, in Tarun Bhartiya‘s translation along with the original, can be read as an obituary 42 years after it was written.
Bal Thackeray ! Bal Thackeray!
At his fascist gods’
Beck and call Thackeray
O be careful, here he comes Bal Thackeray
All agreeing, how shall we crawl Thackeray
Hide, don’t you dare look away
In smart Shiv Sena Uniform – making music hall Thackeray Continue reading Shield of Barbarism by Nagarjun
This Sunday, Delhi walks in its fifth annual queer pride parade. Each year at this time the question arises again: why a pride parade? Transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, hijra, kothi, and intersex people still have too many answers to give. While a decision on the appeals against the 2009 Naz judgment still remains pending, stories of continuing violence on the bodies of those deemed different do not wait for the Supreme Court. Queer people continue to have no legal protections against discrimination in the workplace; to be forcibly dragged to psychologists; to be forced to lie, cheat and conceal their lives; to be victims of familial, domestic and public violence and to feel, in so many ways both in their own minds and in the eyes of many others, like lesser citizens.
What this past year has reminded us is that they are not alone. The fundamental pillars of what enables this violence – fear, prejudice, intolerance – seem to have dug themselves deeper into our cities just as the institutions and democratic safeguards meant to combat them seem to have floundered. The ranks of urban residents who have experienced that deeply queer moment of exclusion and otherness – whether or not it speaks the particular idiom of sexuality – have grown. This year, as people once again take to the streets, they must do so not just for themselves but for the cities they inhabit and, increasingly, must protect.
Continue reading A City’s Pride
This just in from our Thiruvananthapuram correspondent SAJAN VENNIYOOR
Trivandrum, 21 Nov: An unnamed youth from Thiruvananthapuram was arrested by the Kerala Police cyber-crime squad for allegedly ‘liking’ a Facebook post written by a complete stranger. The Facebook account in the name of ‘Indian Patroit Who Fuking Hates Everybody’ – believed to be an alias – carried a comment that was allegedly critical of something reportedly concerning a recently deceased non-Malayali. The Facebook comment was also withdrawn soon after the arrest of the Thiruvananthapuram native under sections 505 of IPC (“promoting ill-will among groups with different imaginary friends”) and 66A of the IT Act (“causing annoyance while belonging to a minority group”).
It is not known what the offensive post said, but police sources confirm that while the comment “did not actually hurt religious sentiments in the proper sense of the word”, it jolly well hurt the feelings of people who knew someone who had some kind of sentiments that may well have been hurt had he been alive.
In his defence, the unnamed youth submitted before the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Vanchiyoor, that he had clicked on the Facebook button only because he violently disagreed with the post, thinking it said “Yikes”.
His lawyer confirmed later that the youth, who was let off on bail, was either dyslexic or from Ulloor.
(Clarification: Some Of Us Are Actually Dyslexic and/or From Ulloor. Any offence caused is therefore to us.)
We have reasons to be grateful that Bal K. Thackeray has died, a normal, natural death. Several of those whom he admired, didn’t. Adolf Hitler, the fellow ‘artist’ he often invoked, killed himself, his mistress and his dog. Indira Gandhi, and her son Sanjay, the mother and son firm of despots that Bal Thackeray endorsed, didn’t go gently into the night either. Sanjay Gandhi, the ‘bold young man’ whom Thackeray recognized as a fellow spirit came spiraling down in his own airplane, demonstrating that the indifferent sky does occasionally listen to the prayers of the earth to alleviate its burden. Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv both fell to the forces that their own ruling dispensation had nurtured, Khalistani zealots and the LTTE. Bal Thackeray was lucky to have lived as long as he did, sipping his lukewarm beer, spitting out his bile. Very lucky. As for us, we are fortunate that Thackeray did not get to go down as a Maratha martyr, just as a lapsed cartoonist, a would-be caudillo and a has-been demagogue. Continue reading Ek Tha Tiger: Death and Bal K. Thackeray
For easy sharing, you can find this image on Twitter and Facebook.
Guest post by PRANESH PRAKASH
This morning, there was a short report in the Mumbai Mirror about two girls having been arrested for comments one of them made, and the other ‘liked’, on Facebook about Bal Thackeray:
Police on Sunday arrested a 21-year-old girl for questioning the total shutdown in the city for Bal Thackeray’s funeral on her Facebook account. Another girl who ‘liked’ the comment was also arrested.
The duo were booked under Section 295 (a) of the IPC (for hurting religious sentiments) and Section 64 (a) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Though the girl withdrew her comment and apologised, a mob of some 2,000 Shiv Sena workers attacked and ransacked her uncle’s orthopaedic clinic at Palghar.
“Her comment said people like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a bandh for that,” said PI Uttam Sonawane.
What provisions of law were used?
There’s a small mistake in Mumbai Mirror‘s reportage as there is no section “64(a)”1 in the Information Technology (IT) Act, nor a section “295(a)” in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). They must have meant section 295A of the IPC (“outraging religious feelings of any class”) and section 66A of the IT Act (“sending offensive messages through communication service, etc.”). The Wall Street Journal’s Shreya Shah has confirmed that the second provision was section 66A of the IT Act.
Section 295A of the IPC is cognizable and non-bailable, and hence the police have the powers to arrest a person accused of this without a warrant.2 Section 66A of the IT Act is cognizable and bailable. Some news sources claim that section 505(2) of the IPC (“Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes”) has also been invoked.
This is clearly a case of misapplication of s.295A of the IPC.3 This provision has been frivolously used numerous times in Maharashtra. Even the banning of James Laine’s book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India happened under s.295A, and the ban was subsequently held to have been unlawful by both the Bombay High Court as well as the Supreme Court. Indeed, s.295A has not been applied in cases where it is more apparent, making this seem like a parody news report. Continue reading Social Media Regulation vs. Suppression of Freedom of Speech: Pranesh Prakash