Here’s what Kapil Sibal said last year: “People have been asking why we can't just prosecute individuals who post hate-speech instead of blocking sites but there are three reasons why that's not workable … each time material of this kind becomes the subject of legal proceedings in open court, you will have protests, mobs, perhaps violence — even if the media is responsible, and doesn't report the details.” Someone else lent strong support to Sibal in his attempt to censor the internet with this: “I've had to deal with stone-throwing mobs on the streets because of some moron in the United States.. Each time, people could have got killed. For me, this isn't an airy-fairy ideological issue, it's a real problem.” This is none other than Omar Abdullah, CM of J&K. Relax Mr.CM, there might be morons in the US but it’s the morons at Azad Maidan (AM) that indulged in unprovoked stone throwing and violence on August 11, 2012. So how do we use the AM story? Let’s check with the MSM.
Till August 11 there was hardly any incident where material from the internet could have been blamed for violence on the streets. I guess both Sibal and Abdullah have been quiet since the violence at AM wasn’t communal but unleashed by one group on its own. The violence wasn’t by Sagarika’s “Internet Hindus” or Barkha’s “Bigots”. If that had indeed been the case then Sibal, Abdullah, Sagarika, Barkha, Rajdeep, Ashutosh and more would have come out with all guns blazing. Instead, our news channels didn’t know where to look or who to blame for what happened. And then some even had the gall to blame the social media for provoking people.
This is a tweet by the mother-in-law of MSM sermonisers, Ashutosh of IBN7, he blames some “gangs” on Twitter. If he has seen some gangs making the provocation he doesn’t know who but wants others to identify and prosecute them. One can safely believe that he hasn’t seen any and is indulging in lie-mongering of his own kind else he could have openly named some people or gangs. The man considers himself a ‘journalist’ and makes terribly loose statements frequently on Twitter without any specifics. If Bollywood ever wanted an actor to portray fake outrage at the drop of every 12-rupee coin, Ashutosh would be their man.
Let’s take a look at a tweet by Sonia Singh of NDTV. Again, she too claims people are putting up images that can create ‘tension’ without verification. Once again, she tweets without any specific reference to any image. It would be safe to assume she is referring to the same gang as Ashutosh and we all know who that gang is. Don’t we? My response to her tweet is also in the image. Truth of the matter is that the online folks on websites and twitter posted accurate images of some criminals from AM. Some of these were also reported by news websites like Firstpost. Some images were captured by Atul Kamble of Mid-day who was assaulted by policemen. Hmm! Not to be left out, Akash Banerjee of Headlines Today jumps into support SoniaSingh. He says ‘self-check’ not possible in social media which is why MSM is needed.
First, nobody has said MSM is not needed and there’s no context. Second, there’s a history of lies and bloopers from MSM which Banerjee’s third rate channel makes him forget. His own super-boss, Aroon Purie, once plagiarised and blamed jet-lag for it. And then as recent as a few days back a major news paper’s website announced Dara Singh dead three days before his actual death. DNA announced Vilasrao Deshmukh dead on August 7, a week before his actual death. As for sensitivity, Banerjee’s channel was the only one to flash tits of the Guwahati molestation victim. And has the MSM already forgotten how they brought hell on Sarabjit Singh's family with the wrong news of his release from Pakistan? So Banerjee and his tribe would do well to look inward before sermonising.
Media crooks frequently utter nonsense on twitter and their channels and when confronted and questioned they play victim and wrongly complain of being abused. Scientists are about to call this phenomenon ‘Barkhadrome’! Truth: None of these unworthies and their channels had the honesty or guts to question the threats issued by Asaduddin Owaisi on Muslim radicalisation. Events of AM followed immediately after his threats in parliament. It’s actually quite a few from Twitter who gave the warning signals which even the Mumbai police seem to have missed.Here’s a tweet that mentions gruesome pictures being circulated in Mumbai to provoke muslims to attend the protest meet at AM. These were supposedly pics of muslims who were butchered in Burma. I am quite certain the Mumbai police too would have got these fliers if these were circulated to citizens so openly everywhere. Neither Ashustosh nor Sonia Singh had the courage the point this out but then come out like angels sermonising. MrsGandhi’s tweet’s timeline is 1.57 am on August 10 which is more than 24 hours before the AzadMaidan gathering. This is apart from SMSes that were being relayed according to the police themselves.
That’s not all, the tweet from @Pushpraj4U from the ground mentions groups getting into local trains in Mumbai and shouting slogans. This was confirmed on August 13 in an NDTV program itself by Sonia Singh. How come news channels missed this too? Or were they sleeping on their jobs?
Incidentally, a fake handle, @officialskynews tweeted Margaret Thatcher’s death on August 14 but was quickly dismissed as a rumour by other tweeters. That’s how social media works unlike MSM which perpetuates lies unless challenged by social media.
Now, let’s get to the juicy part where both Ashutosh and Sonia advise to check and recheck before tweeting images or provoking people. Far from tweeting rumours or lies many on twitter have been very careful and were verifying each news item and each report and each image in tweets. Along with others I too tried to verify the images that were received in a leaflet by @MrsGandhi. And what comes up is shocking to say the least. The images in the leaflet were faked to provoke muslims. The images were from earthquakes and other incidents in Thailand or China and had nothing to do with Burma.
I tweeted information about the site which showed the mischief that many muslim leaders were indulging in to provoke their followers online and on the ground. Farhaz Ahmed, a Pakistani, in his blog PakAlert Press explains systematically how images of deaths were misused to provoke muslims. His post was in the context of Pakistani social media and not India. In India it was Muslim leaders who planned the agitation who used fake pics and that wasn’t through social media. It is just that both Ashutosh and Sonia Singh would have found the same info as I and others did and could have been specific about whom or which group is misusing and abusing social media. They did not! And it’s not very hard to tell why!
There are three interesting images of individuals that are disturbing. Two are of those vandalising the Amar Jawan memorial which was tweeted by many and also carried by online news sites like Firstpost. There’s a third image of a man carrying an automatic gun through the streets at the scene of violence. (See Youtube 0.23) All these three images were buried by all the news channels. Not one of them was outraged at these disturbing images. Now I would like Ashutosh or Sonia to answer if these pics were mischievous and faked by Twitter.
Were these images not available to them? They should have flashed these images or at least the faces of these criminals so that police or citizens could identify them. Nothing! As for Akash Banerjee, it would have been better for Headlines Today to have shown the faces of these thugs instead of cleavage of molestation victims. All the violence, including two people killed, was in support of victims from fake pics that were used by the leaders of the protest at AM. No channel reported the truth. Not Sonia’s NDTV, not Ashutosh’s IBN7 and not Banerjee’s Headlines Today. So my modest suggestion to these media celebs is to look inward and not sermonise social media.
So what’s with the rant against the Twitterati and social media by these media celebs? Now that’s where Kapil Sibal comes in. First he has made no secret his wish to censor the internet and had faced flak from every corner. What’s his reasoning? It’s that there was potential of the internet, social media sites to incite violence. Even communal violence! AM could have been handy but unfortunately from the wrong party. So media hacks like Ashustosh and Sonia are doing a great job for Sibal. Keep accusing Tweeters of posting fake pics, unverified pics and messages, of provoking Hindus and Muslims without any specifics and there you go; the perfect recipe for Sibal to act upon. None of these news channels have shown any courage or nerve to report Assam or AM accurately and honestly.
At the time of writing there are rumours of Assamese and NE citizens being threatened and that there’s an exodus of thousands from Hyderabad (A.Owaisi’s constituency) and Bangalore. There were special trains organised for them to leave at Bangalore (From late on August 15th to early hours on August 16). Not one of the many 24X7 news channels had any report on the facts on the ground. Instead, celebs like Barkha were tweeting silly nonsense, unreliable information with no real source and even colouring events with clever communal tweets. Truth is, Barkha, Sonia, Ashutosh and others in MSM do have an agenda unlike most on twitter. Real threat is that all of this may not end with Assam alone. Not one word from MSM on these threats. If not for social media they may have even totally blacked-out and buried all of these incidents including Assam and AM. Fact: unable to face the onslaught of fast dissemination of information on the social media these media celebs cook up allegations against it. Sorry, won’t sell anymore, no matter how much they Sibalise riots and violence.