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Ban on porn sites, legitimate content, and limitations on social media: Indian Govt.

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ban on porn in india

ban on porn in india

The plan is to begin by creating a list of pornography sites, especially those hosting child porn, and provide that to Internet service providers (ISPs) to block. And then, to ensure that largescale blocking does not slow Internet access, service providers will be asked to upgrade their infrastructure. The Internet and Mobile Association of India has been asked to curate the list.

On September 5th 2014, 23 individuals, including Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, CERT-IN head Gulshan Rai, government officials from DoT, Deity, CBI, as well as representatives of industry bodies like IAMAI, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, CII met in the Conference Room No. 1007 at the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (Deity) to discuss how such a filter might be implemented…Not whether there should be a filter at all, but how such a filter should be implemented.

In fact, when NASSCOM raised the issue of blocking legitimate content, the Telecom Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who chaired the meeting, said that the “larger issue of respecting cultural values of the country and sentiments of the Indian society need to be considered and all possible ways and means may have to be devised in this context.”

In addition, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that, along with CERT-In , they are “working together to block websites containing objectionable contents having the potential to create communal violence and law and order problem as well as sensitive from the national security point of view. He further added that Ministry of I&B has set up National Media Centre to monitor contents of various websites on the Internet on 24 x 7 basis.”

The CRAC (Cyber Regulation Advisory Committee) meeting was looking to filteration of the web, following the filing of a writ petition by Kamlesh Vasvani in the Supreme Court of India, alleging that “easy access to porn websites results in illegal activities like rape, harassment, molestations of women.” The filter is likely to be created for censoring porn online, but as we pointed out earlier, this itself is tricky.

Why we’re worried

1. It’s not about porn alone: The problem with blocking pornography is the collateral damage that comes along with it. In the minutes of the meeting, Gulshan Rai, DG, CERT-IN, refers to a letter from Sharad Pawar, MP and leader of the NCP, to the Prime Minister, which raises the issue of incidents “of communal and related violence in Maharastra triggered by objectionable profiles posted on the social networking sites, hurting sentiments of certain sections of society.”

2. Once a filter is in place, it’s mandate will increase: The last line of the minutes of the meeting: “Regarding the misuse of social media for disturbing social harmony in the country, MCIT requested MHA to look into the matter and evolve steps to prevent misuse.”

If we set up a filter, and politicians want content blocked because it hurts certain sections of society, the government will start blocking everything. The mandate will expand to blocking other content as well.

3. We won’t know what is blocked: We’ve seen from the Department of Telecom in the past, there is lack of transparency on what all is being blocked, why it is being blocked. The Department is yet to even acknowledge an RTI filed by MediaNama, for copies of orders related to blocking content, that do not pertain national security concerns. We’ve filed an appeal with the appellate authority. But we never know what is blocked or why it has been blocked.

4. We won’t know how to get content unblocked: Today, if the government blocks a site, whether because of a court order or because a political party doesn’t like criticism, we don’t know how to get the blocks removed. There is no recourse.

5. Filters will make blocking easier: which means more blocks, implemented more quickly, and with lack of transparency, things can get crazy and whimsical.

The social media issue is concerned, the meeting doesn’t shed much light on how the content screening will take place. Will criticism of the government’s policies also come under this web-filtration? We have no details on the specifics. And let’s not forget India is the leader when it comes to blocking content on Facebook.

As the Medianama piece rightly points out the ambiguity of what could end up getting filtered is what makes this scary. Additionally the whole ‘pornography is against Indian culture’ idea is also worrying because it shows that the government is going along with a rigid definition of what is presumed as the “correct” Indian culture. More details about the meetings are available here

Credits: Medianama/Firstpost

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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18 Plus Vaccination in Himachal Pradesh with Revised Guidelines from Today at 809 CVCs

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Shimla- Vaccination in Himachal Pradesh with revised guidelines would commence today. The vaccination would be available free of cost to all 18 plus people at Government Covid vaccination centers.

HP Health Department has set up around 809 vaccination centers in Himachal. Of these, 734 centers were set up in the rural areas and 85 centers in the urban area. Approximately one lakh 18 plus eligible beneficiaries are targeted to be vaccinated on 21st June 2021.

Onsite registration would be available in the tribal, hard and rural areas. Government vaccination centers established in the urban area falling under MCs, NACs and Nagar Panchayats would be published online. Only those persons who have prescheduled their appointment would be vaccinated.  All eligible beneficiaries in the urban areas should come to vaccination centers only after pre-scheduling their appointment to avoid any inconvenience, the health department said.

Vaccination would be available free of cost at all the Government Covid vaccination centers. However, private hospitals are permitted to charge a maximum of Rs. 150/- per dose as a service charge over the price fixed by the vaccine manufacturers.

According to the HP Govt’s revised vaccination strategy, beneficiaries have been divided into two groups – A and B.

Category A:

  1. All 45+ years beneficiaries for 1 Dose
  2. All 45+ years beneficiaries eligible for 2nd Dose of Covishield
  3. All HCWS as designated by Gol (for both dose 1 and dose 2)
  4. All FLWS designated and notified by Gol (for both dose 1 and dose 2)
  5. All priority groups notified by the GoHP (for both dose 1 and dose 2)

Category B:

  1. All 18-44 years old beneficiaries not included in the above category

HP Govt’s New Directions for Vaccination to Districts

(a) Fixed day approach will be adopted for both categories. For category A beneficiaries, sessions will be held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (including Gazetted Holidays). For category B beneficiaries, sessions will be held on Monday, Tuesdays and Wednesday (including Gazetted Holidays). No Session will be held on Sundays.

(b) The Sessions for 18-44 beneficiaries falling under category B, beneficiaries will be planned as follows:

  1. In Rural, tribal and hard areas-sessions will be planned with the facility of on-spot registration.
  2. In Urban areas (MC, NAC and Nagar Parishad) sessions will be published through online slot booking mode only. For this purpose, the urban areas will be considered as places that are under the direct control of Municipal Corporation NAC/Nagar Panchayat.
  3. All the online session in urban areas will be published one day before the proposed session date between 12:00 PM to 01: 00 PM. But the onsite session can be published even in advance, depending upon the vaccine availability.
  4. Tribal areas (District of Lahaul Spiti, Kinnaur, Pangi region of District Chamba) and hard areas (DodraKwar Region of District Shimla) will aim at covering their 100% population with at least first dose (18-44 years and 45+) through Onspot sessions, by the modality of daily sessions, including Sundays and Holidays, if required. Their session load will depend on the target population. The districts have been directed that the target of 100% coverage of 18+ eligible population in tribal and hard area under all circumstances must be achieved by 25th June 2021.
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Kotkhai Gudiya Case Verdict: Life Imprisonment to Convict, But Parents Say Real Culprits Still Roaming Free

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Kotkhai Gudiya rape and murder case judgement

ShimlaKotkhai’s Gudiya case has officially concluded for now as the lone accused of raping and murdering a schoolgirl was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 18. For the CBI and the court, justice is served, but not for Gudiya’s parents and several locals, who had already approached the Himachal Pradesh High Court with a plea to re-open the case.

On Friday, District and Session Judge, Shimla, Rajive Bharadwaj (also special judge CBI court) pronounced the sentence and imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000 on the convict.

Earlier, on April 18, 2021, based on the investigation and evidence presented by CBI, the special CBI court had found Anil Kumar alias Neelu – a woodcutter- guilty of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl, who was returning home from school on July 4, 2017.

However, the parents of Gudiya expressed disappointment and said the CBI had washed its hands off but justice still has not been delivered. They maintained that this heinous crime was committed by more than one person. The parents said they would continue to fight a legal battle to get justice for their daughter.

The court found at least 12 out of 14 points of evidence given by the CBI against the accused. His DNA match with the sample taken from the crime spot was considered one of the most crucial pieces of evidence.

A total of 59 witnesses were produced by the CBI.

Neelu was convicted under Sections 376 (2) (i), 376 (A), and 302 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 4 of the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The court observed that the crime was committed in the spur of the moment. The convict came across the girl while she was on her way home from school through a path in the Haliailla forest of Kotkhai and committed the crime. 

Neelu, however, told media that he was innocent and was framed by the CBI. He labelled serious allegations against CBI including threats to his life. He told News 18 that  threats were given to him that he would be killed like Suraj, one of the accused killed in police custody on July 18, 2017. He even said that his mother was taken hostage in order to frame him. He said he would approach the higher courts to challenge this verdict. 

Known as the Kotkhai Gudiya rape and murder case, the case had created a stir for several reasons and led to widespread anger and protest. The biggest was the alleged botched-up investigation by a Special Investigative Team headed by Inspector General, Southern Range, Zaidi where six persons were falsely framed and one of them was killed in custody. The killed person was identified as Suraj – a Nepalese labourer. 

This led to violent protests and clashes of protestors with police. A police station in Kotkhai was set ablaze by a mob of locals. Under tremendous pressure, the case was handed over to the CBI in July. A team of CBI lodged two separate FIRs – one in the case relating to the rape and murder of the minor girl and the second in the custodial killing.

On August 29, CBI arrested IG Zaidi, DSP Manoj Joshi and six other police personnel for framing innocent persons and killing one of them in police custody. Another shocker came on November 16 when then Superintendent of Police, DW Negi, was also arrested over charges of filing fake cases in the custodial killing of Suraj.

The CBI told the court that the remaining five accused arrested by the SIT were innocent and were falsely framed and tortured.

The CBI team investigated for the next eleven months without any success. For this delay in investigation, the agency faced backlash from the state high court. Ultimately, disappointed with the CBI, the court questioned the competence of CBI and asked its Director to appear personally before it.

Immediately after this summons, CBI claimed to had cracked the case in which a woodcutter was arrested. The case was considered to be closed thereafter.

In the court, the investigation concluded successfully, however, parents and locals still express doubts that this CBI investigation was botched up. 

Another mystery that wasn’t investigated was that on the evening of July 11, pictures of four youths  were posted on then Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s official Facebook page with an update regarding the SIT probe. The update had said the police nabbed these four suspects  (shown in those pictures) in the Gudiya case. The post was however, deleted after a few minutes later and it was termed as a technical glitch. 

virbhadra-singh-kotkhai-gangrape-controversy2

File Screenshot of Deleted photos

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Editors Guild of India Condemns FIR Against Journalists, Calls it Destructive of Freedom of Speech

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Image Credit: The Cognate

Shimla-The Editors Guild of India on Thursday condemned the filing of First Information Reports (FIRs) by the Uttar Pradesh Police against The Wire and several other journalists for their tweets on an assault on an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad on June 5th.

“The Guild is deeply concerned by the UP Police’s track record of filing FIRs against journalists to deter them from reporting serious incidents without fear of reprisals”, it said.

It further added that it is the duty of the journalists to report on the basis of sources and in case facts become contested later on, to report the emerging versions and facets.

The guild called such actions by the police destructive of freedom of speech. It also claimed that the police has been discriminatory in targeting those media organizations and journalists when thousands had tweeted the video- that have been critical of the government and its policies.

“The Guild condemns this wanton misuse of laws to criminalize reporting and dissent to harass independent media and demands that the FIRs be withdrawn immediately,” it demanded.

Several media organizations and journalists had posted the video on their social media feeds. The UP police has filled FIR’s against The Wire, Twitter, journalist Mohammed Zubair, Rana Ayyub and Sana Naqvi and some Congress leaders under IPC Sections 153(provocation for rioting), 153A(promoting enmity between different groups), 295A(acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 505(mischief), 120B(criminal conspiracy) and 34(common intention) against them.

In the video that was posted by those charged, the man is seen alleging that he was beaten up by some people and was forced to chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’.

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