Sunday, June 29, 2008

Big Brother is Watching

Remember Orwell's 1984?

I felt something like it is happening in most modern socities. I always knew that our online lives are monitored by security agencies. I guess the IBs and RAWs are running scripts on the net to find out what we read, what we write and what we do on the net. I think expecting privacy in an online world is akin to wishing for the moon expecially in terror ridden society of ours.

But when things like this happen, you wonder if you freedom to express yourself is under threat.

Here the issue is two-fold:

1. Error in the data being given by a mobile operator
2. Undue (?) use of force by Maharashtra Police

The first issue is an easy one. Given the terror backdrop that our law enforcement set-up works in, it is natural for them to ask the service provider to provide inputs that they consider critical to their function. However, the callousness with which the Mobile Service Provider (MSP) handled this particular request is incredible. They need to understand the repercussions of any error they make here. In this case, Lakshman Kailash spent 43 days in the Yerwada jail at Pune for no fault of his.

The MSP has spent a considerable amount of PR money to keep this matter under wraps. I hope the courts award a judgment in the favor of Lakshman Kailash directing the MSP to compensate him. And I hope the compensation is large enough to ensure that the MSPs exercise utmost care in providing such information.

The second issue is the most concerning one. Having lived in Mumbai for 4 years, I know that the Shivsena/ MNS/ BJP/ Congress set-up simply loves Shivaji. He is a deity of sorts. However, they just cannot go after anyone who has something derogatory to say about Shivaji. This is a free country and people are entitled to have their views. Putting someone behind bars for more than fourty days for writing something about a maratha warlord is something I find hard to digest. People write so many derogatory things about Mahatma Gandhi but I doubt any of them is subjected to this treatment. Why?

The answer is simple: Vote-bank politics! Shivaji seems to be the top draw in marathi political scenario. The Shivaji mania is so visible in whatever Marathi Polticos do. However, the entire idea of Bangalore police co-operating with the Maharashtra police to catch the 'criminal' who wrote something 'abominable' about Shivaji seems laughable to me. Today it is Shivaji, tomorrow it might be Bal thakrey (Incidentally it did cause a furor of sorts sometime back) and who knows it might be considered bad to bad-mouth Arun Gawli and Chotta Rajan in times to come.

We are a democracy and we have the right to hold our opinions and convictions. They might not be what the establishment would have us believe. But it’s ok! As long as our expression is peaceful in nature.

But even as I write this, I have this lurking fear that my blog might be put on some kind of watch-list and tomorrow they might be knocking at my door to take me to a trip to Yerwada, Pune. So friends, Banloreans and Countrymen (and countrywomen as well), keep your eyes and ears open, I might need your help!


Abisurd said...

I'm surprised at two things
1. The Hindu is reporting a story that is at least 6 months old (even Shekhar Kapor blogged on it in Jan this year)
2. They failed to mention the fact that its an old story and the guy is (perhaps) still fighting for justice.

The analysis of the news item is really nice.

Prateek said...

I did not know that this story is old. Hindu carried it on the front page 3 days back!