Kolkata: so-called “democracy” denounces questioning students, prompting cyber campaign of outrage online

Cyber campaign for apology from Mamata Banerjee

TNN May 22, 2012

KOLKATA: Scores of youngsters from Jadavpur and Presidency universities have launched a cyber campaign against chief minister Mamata Banerjee for branding a group of students “Maoists and CPM cadres” for asking her uncomfortable questions at a TV talk show.

“Can anything be funny and terrifying at the same time?” says one post. “She is ruining the anti-Left movement which was a very hard fought success,” says another.

Mamata had stormed out of the show after accusing Presidency student Taniya Bharadwaj a “Maoist”. The CM alleged that she was being asked “only CPM and Maoist questions”. The video has gone viral on the internet.

Tweets and posts have flooded social networking sites, condemning the chief minister’s “irresponsible and uninformed” remark. They demand that Mamata apologise to Taniya for the “slander”.

Facebook is abuzz with messages from students urging each other to join a campaign against “politics of terror” and make sure that Taniya and the other students who were present at the show (being recorded at Town Hall last Friday) were not persecuted. Many students have uploaded the TV clip of Mamata calling Taniya a Maoist and invited Netizens to view it and lodge their protest.

Shashank Shah, a Jadavpur University international relations student, who was present at the show, said his university mates felt scared initially.

“They were worried about being taken to task for angering the chief minister. Word went around that the police were looking for our telephone numbers and that we could be questioned for our supposed Maoist links. But soon we found that these fears were unfounded and realized that we should rather be protesting the unfair comments and not be afraid. We condemn her remark and will carry on our campaign on the internet,” said Shah.

“It was unfair on her part to call Taniya a Maoist without even knowing her. She owes her an apology. Aren’t Maoists and CPM supporters Indian citizens too? Don’t they have the right to demand answers from the chief minister?” he asked. Continue reading

Internet is double-edged sword in Arab revolts: Amnesty

AFP, May 13, 2011

London:  Dictators in the Arab world could crush uprisings against their iron-fisted rule using the same social media that have been credited with boosting the revolts, Amnesty warned in a new report.

In its annual analysis of the world’s human rights, Amnesty International praised the role of websites such as Twitter and Facebook in fomenting the biggest revolt against repressive regimes since the end of the Cold War.

But the London-based rights group cautioned that social networking sites which had helped cyberactivists to outmanoeuvre the authorities in successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt were a double-edged sword.

“There is no question that social media played a very important role in allowing people to get together,” Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty told AFP.
“There is no doubt that there is a massive opening up of space through the Internet — but we have to remember all the time that this also gives an opportunity for governments to crack down on people.” Continue reading