Hunger strike of Aseem Trivedi and Alok Dixit from Save Your Voice

Posted on May 20, 2012 in Specials

By Madhav Gupta:

On 11th April 2011 Government of India notified the new Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 in order to have a significant monitor and control over the vicarious web world. The act will allow government agencies to have access to each and every activity of ours on the internet. Let it be your facebook profiles, twitter accounts, blogs, YouTube, gtalk, Skype calls and even data stored via cloud computing, they can trace them all. If the government finds something obscene on the ministers or disagree on few issues, they can shut down site or blog on its own. Basically the IT Act 2011 will lead to;-

1. Lead to a clamp down on the freedom of speech and expression enshrined in the Constitution of India by providing for a system of censorship/self-censorship by private parties;

2. Adversely affect the right to privacy of citizens by allowing Government agencies to access their information;

3. Will severely hamper the growth of internet penetration in India, and consequently lead to a slowdown of economic growth;

4. Limit the growth of various IT related industries and services (in particular cyber cafes, search engines and bloggers). Courtesy (Save your Voice).

The Protest

On 2nd May Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and Journalist Alok Dixit from ‘Save Your Voice‘ started open- ended hunger strike at Jantar Mantar to support the ANNULMENT MOTION against IT Rules-2011 in the Rajya Sabha.

It started with the Anna Hazare agitation against corruption; he went on “fast” from 27th December, and cartoonist Aseem went all the way to Mumbai from Kanpur to attend. He made few cartoons which were later on published in Hindustan Times and Prahar a leading Marathi newspaper. And the next day his site cartoonsagainstcorruption.com where he uploaded the same poster was shut down by Mumbai police on a complaint being filed by the local Congress leader. After checking up with the lawyers he found that the action taken by the police official is not covered in the IT Act.

So, Aseem and Alok decided to take an action and started protesting against the various loopholes and freedom of speech held by IT Act 2011 in the gandhian or Anna way by fasting. The protest was started quite peacefully and they gathered support from a Rajya Sabha MP, Sh. P. Rajeev., and theatre personality Arvind Gaur, Director of Asmita Theatre (New Delhi) and other associates.

The protest was gaining momentum and on 6th may the duo decided to quit water as well. But later in the evening Delhi Police came on spot and on their persuasion, Aseem and Alok were admitted in Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. However, they are adamant to continue the protest.

Recently Mamta Banerjee got Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra behind the bars for making cartoons on her! Most of us were shocked on this lame news, but if the IT Act 2011 gets approved than people like Ambikesh will lose their voice and there can be a monarchy similar to Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s regime where only a government run channel was allowed to show what PM wants to show.

However, there has been an increasing need for an IT regulation, as Cyber crimes are increasing at an alarming rate, Pornography is highly accessible, Piracy has been adding new channels and the worst part is Terrorism is make a full use of social networking sites leading to high risk for the country. But the current Act is of severe loopholes, which can lead to an adverse effect on the freedom of speech and expression provided by the World Wide Web.

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Kundan Pandey

Madhav, I think here again, we should be cautious not to go way ahead and prove the govt. wrong. I believe the protests in this case are taking care of this fact, which is good. Certainly, there is no one way in regard to IT regulations. We must have regulations placed but as you have rightly stated, the current law will heavily breach our privacy and freedom of expression, so it needs to be reformed. On the other hand, we need to work on pornography and piracy- as no matter how liberal, open-minded and modern we become as a society, these are malicious acts, that do cause social and economic harm to the very fabric of a sustainable society. So, govt. must focus to curb them rather than peeking to much into the lives of its citizens. A consortium of intellectuals, IT experts, legal luminaries and policy makers can easily filter the truth and reform this act. Nevertheless, amidst all this, a political will to really solve the issue peacefully is of paramount importance, without which, IT Act will remain a sea of controversies. Nice coverage, anyway. :)

Vishakh Unnikrishnan

This might be a cause for threat for sites like youthkiawaaz and other alike.

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