Freedom Under Fire: Social Media Campaign Against Unilever; Bengaluru Journalist Alleges Assault

A round-up of news, both bad and good, on the rights front from India.

File photo agitation against mercury exposure and pollution caused by Unilever's factory. Credit: PTI

File photo of agitation against mercury exposure and pollution caused by Unilever’s factory. Credit: PTI

Campaign for Unilever to clean up Kodaikanal regains momentum on social media

After a campaign by social activists and a viral rap song, Unilever agreed to compensate mercury factory workers last month, activists have taken to social media once again demanding that Unilever also fulfil their second demand – clean up the mercury they dumped in Kodaikanal’s Pambar Shola reserved forest. They were using the date of the company’s annual general meeting to make their point, tweeting directly to CEO Paul Polman with the hashtag #UnileverPollutes.

Bengaluru journalist alleges police assault

On Tuesday, when garment workers took to the streets protesting the Centre’s new rules on PF withdrawal, police allegedly assaulted Sharan Gurikar, a journalist with Janashri News, The News Minute reported.

Gurikar says he was attacked while covering the protest. “Five policemen dragged me into a building and thrashed me. Every time they came back after taking a break of a few seconds, the beating only got worse,” he said. They also broke his camera, he alleged.

He said that when he lodged a complaint with the Mico Layout police, they registered the FIR and apologised to him. Gurikar insisted that an investigation be carried out and action taken accordingly. “In India journalist’s lives are valued very cheaply and we want to change that,” said he said.

Journalists in Bengaluru protested against the alleged assault on Thursday.

After 14 years, Dalits allowed to enter community hall

Dalit residents of Sigaranahalli in Holenarsipur taluk of Karnataka, who have been demanding entry into a temple and a community hall in the village since 2015, were finally allowed to enter the community hall on Tuesday evening, The Hindu reported.

On April 19, in the presence of senior police officers in the village the name board of the hall, called ‘Vokkaliga Samudaya Bhavan’, was completely coated with white paint and Dalits entered the premises. The upper caste Vokkaligas, who had earlier opposed changing the board, did not protest.

Social media radicalising J&K youth, says DGP; all WhatsApp groups to be registered in Kupwara

According to a report in The Hindu, Jammu and Kashmir’s director of police, K. Rajendra Kumar, said that social media had a big role to play in radicalising young people in the Valley. According to him, internet services had been blocked to “prevent the spread of disinformation”. “It is to establish some kind of control. People are posting anything they want on WhatsApp groups,” he added.

Meanwhile, a government circular in Kupwara has asked all WhatsApp groups to register themselves within 10 days, NDTV reported. The circular names an officer who is to head the “Social Media Centre” for the registration and monitoring of WhatsApp groups. The government has also said that group administrators will be blamed for “irresponsible remarks leading to untoward incidents”. Students have opposed this restriction.


Do you know of any other incident we should highlight in this column? Write to me at [email protected].

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