Rohit Kumar's Views

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Posts Tagged ‘civil society

Political dissent Indian urged to repeal sedition law

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ISLAMABAD: International human rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the Indian government to immediately repeal the colonial-era sedition law, which local authorities are using to silence peaceful political dissent.

According to the Kashmir Media Service, the HRW said that the Indian government should drop sedition cases against prominent human rights activists such as a vocal critic of the Chhattisgarh state government’s counter-insurgency policies against Maoist, Dr Binayak Sen, Arundhati Roy, and others.

“Using sedition laws to silence peaceful criticism is the hallmark of an oppressive government,” said the South Asia director at HRW, Meenakshi Ganguli. “The Supreme Court has long recognised that the sedition law cannot be used for this purpose, and India’s parliament should amend or repeal the law to reflect this.”

“Considering that India wants the world to celebrate its independent judiciary and active civil society, these actions are both bizarre and regressive,” Ganguly said. “Local authorities do not need to wait for parliament to pass any changes in the sedition law to act lawfully, but instead should just stop pursuing cases against their critics.”

Geo telecasts disrupted despite SC order

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KARACHI: Cable operators blocked the transmission of Pakistan’s favourite entertainment channel, Geo TV, on Sunday night due to which the organisation suffered a loss of crores of rupees.

Geo spokesman said different tactics were used at different places. Sometimes the picture was frozen and sometimes the voice was muted. Sometimes telecasts were closed and then opened again and again.

The viewers of Geo Entertainment channel were also annoyed with the situation and complained about the blockage of the channel on phone to the Geo TV offices.

It merits mentioning here that a few days ago, cable operators in Karachi were pressurised to block the transmission of Geo TV. Even after restoration of the Geo transmission, the channel has been set at last numbers due to which the viewers are facing difficulties.

A spokesman for Geo TV said Geo is the largest and most viewed channel of the country, which should be set on the first numbers in any circumstances. “It is a rule throughout the world that channels viewed most are set at the first numbers,” said the spokesman.

In this regard, the Supreme Court was told during the hearing of a petition filed by Geo viewers that cable operators have set Geo on last numbers under government pressure and till the case is decided Geo be kept on numbers where it was set previously.

The court directed Pemra to order cable operators to keep Geo at numbers where it was set previously and which it deserved. Geo spokesman said according to Pemra laws, basic channels are kept at the first 20 numbers and Geo is included in them.

For years, Geo has been telecast at initial numbers. Quoting sources, Geo spokesman said that all this is being done at the government’s behest and cable operators have been asked to close Geo and harass it to such an extent that they relent because in October and November, important judicial verdicts are to be announced.

The spokesman said Honey World cable operator is among those who blocked the Geo Entertainment transmission, while in Bahawalpur there is Al-Noor Cable. In Multan, Sky Vision covers Bosan road, Zakariya town, Shalimar colony, Gul Gusht and Smeejaabad, while Solo Digital Cable Operator, owned by Muhammad Tahir Chaudhry, who is a loop holder of World Call and licence holder with the name of Solo Digital Cable and has taken Sony Sky Vision loop nowadays, covers Wilayatabad and Shah Rukn Alam areas. Rawalpindi’s Unicom Cable covers Saddar, Tank Bata, Cantt, Airport road, Sadiqabad and Chandni Chowk; Pasban Cable covers Chaklala Scheme I, II, III, Afshan Colony and Gulzar-e-Quaid. Rahimyar Khan’s City Sky Cable runs only one cable in Sadiqabad; Karachi’s MPC Cable covers Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar and some areas of Federal B Area; KCS Cable covers North Nazimabad, North Karachi and Nazimabad, where World Call has jammed the signals.

In Quetta, Combined Cable covers Saryab road, College road, Alamdar road and some areas of Cantt. It is opened 100 % in Lahore.

Geo spokesman said that cable operators have also been told that if they did not cooperate, the government would immediately receive the dues which they (cable operators) have to pay to Pemra and action would be taken against them for telecasting foreign and Indian channels. Geo spokesman said that cable operators must abide by the law and perform their responsibilities while remaining in the legal framework and they should not annoy the people, as the people want to watch Geo TV. The spokesman asked them that they must avoid causing crores of rupees loss to the organisation by such an act and all the matters must be run in line with the law.

A Geo spokesman said when it was known on Sunday evening that Geo TV was being blocked, the Pemra chairman was informed about the whole situation forthwith and he was also given the details as to who was doing this.

He said that the Geo administration would move the court today (Monday) and the cable operators who closed the Geo transmission and the Pemra would be sued for damages. The Geo spokesman requested the people to come forward and provide proof to the court if someone had any because the court would require proof regarding the closure of Geo. The people might contact on the telephone numbers given in the advertisements in Monday’s editions of Jang and The News. They should inform the administration of Geo Network where the Geo transmissions had been closed so that the administration might tell the court that there were complaints from the people, which might be presented in the court as proof because the cable operators and Pemra officials denied the facts.

A Geo spokesman said that getting information is the right of the people for which Geo was making efforts. The Geo spokesman said that the associations of the print and electronic media from across the country contacted them and the associations would convene a meeting within two days in which the journalists from Jang, Geo as well as from other institutions would participate and the future line of action would be decided.

The Geo spokesman said, “how long will we endure torture for advocating rule of law in the country? The Supreme Court should take suo motu notice of the unending excesses being committed against us at the behest of the government.” He said, “We have given tremendous sacrifices for the rule of law in the country.” He said the previous government had inflicted a huge financial loss on Geo and the present government continued this policy of forcing a financial crunch on the channel. Billions of rupees losses have been inflicted on Geo.

The spokesman said that they intend to again approach the Supreme Court and also file criminal cases against cable operators and the government.The spokesman asked politicians, media associations, civil society and other public representatives to come out and play their role.