IIFA Awards 2022: Kriti Sanon, Vicky Kaushal Win Big, ‘Shershaah’ Awarded Best Picture

The 22nd edition of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards, which was held in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, saw actors Kriti Sanon and Vicky Kaushal bagginh the top acting honours for their films Mimi and Sardar Udham respectively. The Best Film Award, on the other hand, was given to Shershaah.

The star-studded event started on June 3rd in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, and the main awards night was held on Saturday, June 4. The award show saw performances from Sara Ali Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Shahid Kapoor, Ananya Panday, and Nora Fatehi. In attendance were Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, A R Rahman, Tiger Shroff, Yo Yo Honey Singh, Pankaj Tripathi, and many others from the Hindi film industry.

Kaushal took to Instagram and penned an emotional post after receiving the IIFA award. He wrote, “Behind all that jazz it’s that boy who once thought everything he wished to achieve was all too far. Waited for you since forever… not leaving you tonight!  IIFA Best Actor! Thank You Shoojit Sircar for believing in me and making it possible for me and thank you Team Sardar Udham, this one’s for all of us.”

In the technical awards section too, Kaushal’s period drama, Sardar Udham won three awards which included cinematography and editing. It was followed by Aanand L Rai’s Atrangi Re. 

Here’s the full list of winners:

Best Actor (Male) – Vicky Kaushal for Sardar Udham

Best Actor (Female) – Kriti Sanon for Mimi

Best Director – Vishnuvaradhan for Shershaah

Best Film – Hiroo Yash Johar, Karan Johar, Apoorva Mehta, Shabbir Boxwala, Ajay Shah, Himanshu Gandhi for Shershaah.

Best Playback Singer Female – Asees Kaur for ‘Raataan Lambiyan’, Shershaah.

Best Playback Singer Male – Jubin Nautiyal for the song ‘Raataan Lambiyan’, Shershaah.

Best Lyrics – Kausar Munir for ‘Lehra Do’, 83.

Best Music Direction – A R Rahman for Atrangi Re and Jasleen Royal, Javed-Mohsin, Vikram Montrose, B Praak, Jaani for Shershaah

Best Male Debut – Ahan Shetty for Tadap

Best Female Debut – Sharvari Wagh for Bunty Aur Babli 2

Best Story Adapted – Kabir Khan, Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan for 83.

Best Original Story – Ludo by Anurag Basu

Best Supporting Actor Female – Sai Tamhankar for Mimi

Best Supporting Actor Male – Pankaj Tripathi for Ludo

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Seek Removal of Perfume Ad For Derogatory Content on Women

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) have suspended an advertisement of a perfume brand for its detrimental portrayal of women.

“The above mentioned video is detrimental to the portrayal of women in the interest of decency or morality, and in violation of the rule 3(1)b(ii) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which inter-alia provides that the users shall not host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update, or share any information which is insulting or harassing on the basis of gender,” read the official joint statement of the MIB and the ASCI.

The advertisement that was first made available on Youtube, on Friday, depicts four men standing behind a woman, at a mall, and saying, “Hum chaar, aur yeh ek. Shot kaun lega?” (We are four, and there’s one. Who is going to take the shot?)

While the woman appears uncomfortable, initially, and turns around to face the men, she heaves a sigh of relief after she follows their gaze and sees that they referred to the perfume.

According to MIB and ASCI’s statement, the video garnered close to a million views on YouTube and was also shared on other social media platforms. The advertisement was also broadcast on TV.

Swati Maliwal, Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) wrote to Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Youth and Sports Affairs, Anurag Thakur, which cited two advertisements of the same brand.

“This advertisement is clearly promoting sexual violence against women and girls, and (is) encouraging a rapist mentality amongst men. The advertisement is cringe-worthy and should not be allowed to be played again mass media,” Maliwal’s statement read, and emphasised on the need for a robust system to be put in place.

She added that one of the ways to ensure that such content is not produced, or published, “for cheap publicity, would be to impose heavy penalty on this particular company for its anti-women advertisement.”

In a notice attached to the letter, Maliwal sought the submission of documents such as copy of the FIR and a detailed action report in the matter. She also asked for the submission of information on the steps taken by the police to remove the advertisement.

However, despite both notices, the ad continues to be circulated on social media platforms, as well as on YouTube.

Allahabad HC Quashes FIR Against Siddharth Varadarajan & Ismat Ara Over Farmer’s Protest Violence Reportage

Allahabad High Court, on Wednesday, quashed the FIR registered against Siddharth Varadarajan, the founding editor of The Wire, and journalist Ismat Ara for reporting on the death of a protesting farmer amid the violence that broke out in New Delhi on January 26, 2021.

“This court is of the view that since the allegations made in the FIR do not disclose the commissioning of offences under Sections 153-B and 505 (2) IPC, therefore, it is not sustainable in the eyes of law and is liable to be quashed,” read the court order.

The FIR was filed over a story written by Ara, and tweeted by herself as well as Varadarajan. According to the piece, the deceased farmer’s grandfather, Hardeep Singh Dibdibiya, had said that one of the doctors who conducted the post-mortem on his grandson had informed him that he had died from a bullet wound.

Severe violence broke out on Republic Day 2021 during a rally of thousands of farmers, who were protesting the Farm Bills 2020, when they deviated from the permitted rally route, broke barricades, entered the capital city, and stormed the Red Fort. Following a heated confrontation with the police, farmer Navreet Singh was killed, while several others, as well as some police officials, were injured.

Later, Rampur police had shared a statement, according to which, the doctors involved in Singh’s post-mortem had denied speaking “to the media or any other person” or provide any such information.

Claiming that The Wire’s report had “misled people” and that the article had incited anger among those living in the area, giving rise to tension, an FIR was registered by the Uttar Pradesh Police, based on a complaint from a resident of Rampur named Sanju Turaiha, under sections 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity between classes) of the Indian Penal Code.

In November, the Allahabad High Court had granted interim protection from arrest to both Varadarajan and Ara, based on the directions of the Supreme Court. The apex court had also directed the duo to approach the High Court if they wanted the FIR quashed.

While revoking the FIR, the High Court order also stated, “Nothing was also brought before this court to indicate that there was any disturbance or riot which may have any bearing on public disorder on account of the publication of news/tweet of the petitioners.”

“The aforesaid news items do not disclose that any opinion was expressed by the petitioners with consequences thereof. Therefore, this Court does not find any opinion or assertion on the part of the petitioners which may have the effect of provoking or inciting the people,” added the order.

Afghan Women TV Anchors Forced to Wear Hijab on Air, After New Taliban Order

Women anchors from leading television news channels in Afghanistan went on air on Sunday, and were seen covering their faces with a hijab, a day after defying the Taliban’s recent order to conceal their faces on television.

“Today, they have imposed a mask on us, but we will continue our struggle by using our voices. I will never ever cry because of this order, but I will be the voice for other Afghan girls,” said Sonia Niazi, a TOLOnews presenter and a member of the Afghanistan working women’s union, to AFP

She also took to Instagram to share a picture of herself, presenting the news while wearing a hijab, and wrote, “Women don’t know what to wear and how to act, and end up letting others decide their lives for them.”

Earlier, this month, the Ministry of Vice and Virtue issued an order that it is mandatory for female television presenters to wear masks. On Saturday, the Ministry reportedly emphasised once again, that female anchors have to oblige to the order starting Sunday. The Ministry spokesperson also told TOLOnews that the decision was final, and there was no room for discussion on the matter, and that the Ministry of Information and Culture also supported the decision.

The Ministry of Vice and Virtue and the Ministry of Information and Culture also verbally issued the order to media outlets, two days prior to the final deadline.

“Some media outlets reported that the Ministry of Vice and Virtue had recalled its decision about female journalists, saying they can carry one of their TV programs without wearing a mask. This news is not true at all, and from Sunday onwards, any woman who appears on the TV, should cover their face with a mask,” the ministry reportedly said on Twitter.

However, Khpolwak Sapai, TOLOnews Director, said that “there was no clear indication regarding female presenters covering up their faces on TV programs in the recent decree about the hijab by the Islamic Emirate’s leadership.” He also mentioned that “the images of female presenters on TV are virtual and are not the actual presence of women, and therefore TOLOnews stands on its position regarding this matter.”

Lima Spesaly, a presenter at 1TV, told AFP that it was difficult working under the Taliban government but she was ready for a fight.

“We will continue with our struggle, until our last breath,” said Spesaly, minutes before going on air.

During a CNN panel discussion, Khatera, another TOLOnews anchor, said, “They want to remove women from the streets, they are afraid of educated women.”

The male anchors also appeared with masks on air, to stand in solidarity with their female colleagues, who were forced to wear hijab on live television.

While Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Islamic Emirate, said that the hijab is a religious order; a ministry advisory, and that if women continue wearing masks and hijab as they used to during the Covid-19 pandemic, they can continue working.

After the military organisation, Taliban, took over Afghanistan in August 2021, it has given rise to a major crackdown on the country’s media. Immediately after the country’s takeover by the Taliban, the radio stations replaced their usual Hindi and Persian pop and call-in shows with sombre patriotic music. Earlier, in March, the Ministry of Vice and Virtue had ordered the prohibition of airing foreign drama series, and those reporting on the same could face arrest. In their recent order, they also closed girls’ schools, banned women from going to work or travel, and several such restrictions on women.

On Sunday, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) met with women leaders, media and Taliban representatives in Kandahar. “The UN envoy stressed the importance of building domestic legitimacy through inclusive governance, a genuine reconciliation process and upholding the rights of all Afghans, especially girls access’ to schools.”

HFPA Member Husam Sam Asi Sues Organisation over Lack of Action on Sexual Harassment Complaints

Husam Sam Asi, a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, has sued the media organisation, on Wednesday. He alleges that he was sexually harassed on multiple occasions, but no action was taken on his complaints.

According to the lawsuit acquired by Silverscreen India, a HFPA board member had reportedly grabbed Asi’s behind on more than one occasion in front of several media members at different press conferences back in 2018. She had also allegedly invited Asi to her house to teach him how to have “good sex.”

Another incident also involved a HFPA member, who allegedly grabbed Asi and kissed him during another board member’s birthday party. Yet another member reportedly offered to show Asi videos of sexual intercourse between her and her boyfriend, as a form of instruction.

The lawsuit notes that none of these actions were done with Asi’s consent.

“No investigation was conducted by HFPA and there were no adverse consequences to the individual who groped Dr Asi,” the suit reads, adding that HFPA’s lack of action created a hostile environment.

Asi further accuses the organisation of “weaponising” false sexual harassment allegations in retaliation for his attempts to hold the leadership accountable.

Asi’s association with the HFPA dates back to 2010. The lawsuit says that Asi has faced racial comments since he first applied for his membership. It adds that Asi was referred to as a “terrorist” multiple times by HFPA’s lead executives.

Asi further claims that he did not get a job on the Golden Globes website, or any committee position, for seven years even though he was well-qualified. Upon questioning the then HFPA president, Asi was told that the “members hated him because he was an ‘angry Arab’.”

While a complaint was filed about the “terrorist” remark in the summer of 2021, Asi reported the “angry Arab” comment to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Director as recently as December 2021.

But, the HFPA reportedly refused to investigate the claims and told Asi that bringing up such matters could potentially hurt the organisation.

The lawsuit says that in failing to take action, or conduct investigation into Asi’s complaints, the HFPA has breached its own bylaws and Code of Conduct.

The Golden Globes curator earlier came under fire for its lack of diverse membership after an LA Times investigation revealed in February 2021 that there were no Black members among the 87 HFPA members.

Consequently, major studios distanced themselves from the association in 2021. The long-time broadcasting partner of Golden Globes, NBC, also announced it would not air the awards. Following growing criticisms, actor Tom Cruise returned his three Golden Globe awards, while stars like Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo asked others in Hollywood to “step back” from the HFPA.

Although the HFPA went ahead and conducted the 2022 edition of the Golden Globes, the organisation was given a cold shoulder by the studios that did not acknowledge their nominations or wins. Moreover, the event was conducted without any audience or broadcasting partner.

Danish Siddiqui, 3 Other Indian Photojournalists Win Pulitzer Prize 2022

Late photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was among four Indian journalists to be honoured with the prestigious Pulitzer Prize 2022 under the Feature Photography category on Monday.

Siddique, Adnan Abidi, Sanna Irshad Mattoo, and Amit Dave from the Reuters news agency won the award for “images of COVID’s toll in India that balanced intimacy and devastation, while offering viewers a heightened sense of place,” as per the citation, which also noted that their work was moved from the Breaking News Photography category by the jury.

This marks the second Pulitzer Prize for Siddique, who previously won the award in 2018 under the same Feature Photography category as part of the Reuters team for their coverage of the Rohingya refugee crisis.

38-year-old Siddique was killed in 2021 while covering a clash between Afghan security forces and Taliban forces in Spin Boldak, near the Pakistan border. The New Delhi-based photojournalist had extensively covered the Afghanistan conflict, the Hong Kong protests, and other major events in Asia, Middle East, and Europe, over the course of his career.

This year’s award is the third Pulitzer Prize for Abidi, who is also based in the capital city. He previously won the honour for coverage of the Rohingya crisis in 2018 and the Hong Kong protests in 2020.

Mattoo and Dave are based in Jammu & Kashmir and Ahmedabad, respectively.

The Pulitzer for Breaking News Photography was shared by Marcus Yam of the Los Angeles Times “for raw and urgent images of the US departure from Afghanistan that capture the human cost of the historic change in the country” and McNamee, Drew Angerer, Spencer Platt, Samuel Corum and Jon Cherry of Getty Images for their “comprehensive and consistently riveting photos of the attack on the US Capitol.”

The Washington Post took home the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

This year’s Pulitzer Prize Board also awarded a special citation to the journalists of Ukraine for their “courage, endurance, and commitment to truthful reporting during Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion of their country and his propaganda war in Russia.”

“Despite bombardment, abductions, occupation, and even deaths in their ranks, they have persisted in their effort to provide an accurate picture of a terrible reality, doing honour to Ukraine and to journalists around the world,” the citation said.

The 19-member Pulitzer Board is composed of leading journalists and news executives from media outlets across the United States, as well as five academics in the field of arts. The dean of Columbia’s school of journalism and the administrator of the prizes are non-voting members.

FIR Registered Against Sudarshan News Anchor For Hate Speech

The Delhi Police has registered a First Information Report against Sudarshan News television editor Suresh Chavhanke for his alleged hate speeches at a meeting organised by a right-wing extremist group in Delhi during December 2021.

As the Delhi Police informed the Supreme Court during a hearing on Saturday that they have registered an FIR for the offences of Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups based on religion and acting prejudicially to maintenance of harmony), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage reli­gious feelings by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs), 298 (uttering words with deliberate intent to hurt religious feelings) and 34 (committed by several persons with common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. The FIR has been registered at the Okhla Industrial Area Police Station on Wednesday. 

Organised by the Hindu Yuva Vahini, a right-wing extremist group, the ‘Dharam Sansad’ event held on December 19 last year, Chavhanke had urged the crowd to take an oath and called for a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu nation). “Hindu rashtra ke liye ladenge, marenge, aur zarurat padi toh maarenge (we all pledge to make this country a Hindu nation. We will fight for it, die for it, and if needed, also kill for it),” he said.

Following the incident, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by journalist Qurban Ali and senior advocate Anjana Prakash, who is also a former judge of the Patna High Court, seeking criminal action against the alleged hate speeches at the Delhi meeting as well as a similar meet at Haridwar the same month.

In an earlier affidavit submitted by the Delhi Police in the Supreme Court, they had said that the speeches do not qualify as hate speech against any community. They had further mentioned that even after an “in-depth” investigation of video and other materials, they found that there was no use of any such words which could be interpreted as “open calls of genocide of Muslims.”

“In-depth investigation of the video and other material found that no hate speech was given against any community. Therefore, after investigation and evaluation of the purported video clip, it was concluded that the alleged speech contained no hate speech against a particular community,” the Delhi Police had stated. 

Following this, the Supreme Court had reportedly expressed dissatisfaction at the affidavit filed by the Delhi Police and had granted two weeks of time to file a “better affidavit” by Wednesday.

The Delhi Police, then, informed the Supreme Court that after “minute verification”, they had registered an FIR against the editor.

India Ranks 150th in Press Freedom Index 2022, Lowest in 20 Years

In the Press Freedom Index 2022 published by Reporters Without Border on Tuesday, India has been ranked 150 out of 180 countries, its lowest rank in the last 20 years. The media watchdog further noted that the press is “under threat” in India and called it “one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media.”

Slipping eight positions, India dropped from 142nd place in 2020 and 2021 to 150th this year.

Reporters Without Borders first published its Press Freedom Index 20 years ago, in 2002, at which time India secured the 80th rank. It later dropped to 128 in 2003 and then secured the 120th rank in 2004, both under the rule of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee. After this, India ranked 106 and 105 in 2005 and 2006, respectively, under the leadership of Congress’s Manmohan Singh. Following this, it kept fluctuating under Congress rule, from 105 to 131 till 2013.

However, under the Narendra Modi-led BJP reign since 2014, India has constantly been slipping. It secured the 136th position in 2017, 138th in 2018, 140th in 2019, 142nd in 2020 and 2021, and finally, down to 150th this year.

In February, when questioned about last year’s poor ranking in the index, the Government of India said that it does not agree with the ranking as the publisher is a foreign NGO. The union government further questioned the methodology used by the NGO for drawing its conclusions, citing “very low sample sizes, little or no weightage to fundamentals of democracy, adoption of a methodology which is questionable and non-transparent, and lack of clear definition of press freedom.”

In this year’s report, the international media organisation noted that while India has more than 100,000 newspapers and 380 television news channels, “the abundance of media outlets conceals tendencies toward the concentration of ownership, with only a handful of sprawling media companies at the national level, including the Times GroupHT Media LtdThe Hindu Group and Network18.”

The international media watchdog further mentioned that 13 journalists are currently imprisoned in the country, while one was killed in January 2022. It also pointed to the targeting of Muslim journalists such as Rana Ayyub, time and again, while covering rallies, the farmers’ protest, anti-CAA protests, and reporting on the failures of the Modi government, especially its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Indian law is protective in theory but charges of defamation, sedition, contempt of court and endangering national security are increasingly used against journalists critical of the government, who are branded as ‘anti-national’,” read the report.

The organisation also quoted groups such as the press council and editors’ guild as saying, “The authorities should conduct prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigations into allegations of threats and attacks targeting journalists and critics, including from government officials. Journalists should not have to risk their freedom and their lives to do their work.”

Press Club of India Demands Action against Punjab Police for Allegedly Assaulting Journalist Naresh Vats

The Press Club of India issued a statement, on Thursday, demanding immediate action against Punjab police officials for allegedly assaulting senior journalist Naresh Vats, who was in Delhi to cover the joint press conference of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.

The organisation has demanded the “immediate suspension of the policemen and compensation to the aggrieved scribe.”

“There is no action or statement from either chief ministers. Their silence is an ominous pointer of their tacit approval of the incident. It is a matter of serious concern,” the Press Club wrote.

On Tuesday, Vats was allegedly assaulted by Punjab police and was barred from attending the press conference, which took place at Imperial Hotel in Delhi. According to the journalist, despite providing his Press Information Bureau card when asked to prove his identity, he was denied entry to the conference by an official. The official had allegedly also asked the police present at the event “to put the journalist in jail.”

Following this, Vats filed a complaint with the Director-General of PIB and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

On Tuesday, Chandigarh Press Club had also shared a statement, condemning the issue. According to their statement, when Vats was barred from entering the conference, he had resisted, upon which police personnel had assaulted him. The Chandigarh Press Club also mentioned that despite Vats making numerous calls to the Public Relations team of the Punjab Government regarding the issue, there was no response. “Eventually, Vats was left with no other option but to file a complaint against the policemen at the Parliamentary Street police station,” they added.

“This incident is a clear attack on the freedom of speech while restricting a journalist from performing his professional commitment,” said Rajinder Singh Nagarkoti, Secretary-General of Chandigarh Press Club.

The organisation demanded that strict actions be taken against the policemen. It had further urged the Press Club of India to take notice of “all such atrocities against journalists.”

With Elon Musk Set to Take Over Twitter for $44 Billion, Here’s a Look Back at Everything the Tesla CEO Has Said about the Platform

Twitter Inc on Monday, agreed to the proposed $44 billion takeover of the company by Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and the CEO of Tesla.

After the news broke that Musk will soon acquire Twitter, one of his tweets from back in 2017 has resurfaced, where he asked about the price of the company and indicated his interest in buying it. Musk had tweeted, “I love Twitter” and when a user suggested that he buy it, he had asked, “How much is it?”

On March 14, this year, the tech billionaire became the biggest shareholder of Twitter, after obtaining a 9.2% stake in the company by purchasing approximately 73.5 million shares. He was invited to join the company’s board shortly after this was disclosed. However, about a week later, Parag Agrawal, the networking platform’s current CEO, announced that Musk had decided not to join the board of Twitter.

A few days after this, Musk offered to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash, a 54% premium over the day before the billionaire began investing in Twitter, and a 38% premium over the day before his investment was publicly announced.

The company has now decided to accept Musk’s offer. This will transform Twitter into a private company.

What lies ahead for Twitter?

In January 2020, when Musk appeared as a surprise guest in a corporate summit called #OneTeam, invited by Twitter’s then CEO Jack Dorsey in Houston, thousands of employees present at the event had reportedly cheered, clapped and pumped fists. But, after the announcement of the takeover, employees have largely stopped celebrating. This appears to be due to Musk declaring his intent to buy Twitter, scrap its content moderation policies and privatise the company.

Musk has said that his primary reason for the takeover is to promote “free speech” on the platform. However, his take on free speech has raised concerns over the future of Twitter’s content moderation policies.

On March 24, Musk had put up a poll, asking if the “Twitter algorithm should be open source.” The poll received an 82.7% response in the affirmative.

Soon after, he posted another poll about free speech and asked, “Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” to which 70.4% disagreed. “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy,” he had stated, adding, “The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.”

On March 26, he had tweeted again, asking if there was a need for a new platform. “Given that Twitter serves as the de-facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?”

In his offer filing, Musk also noted that he had invested in Twitter as he believes in its “potential to be the platform for free speech” around the globe. “I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” he added.

“However, since making my investment, I now realise the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company,” Musk mentioned, in his filings.

On Friday, shortly after making his offer, he wrote, “If our Twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!”

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated. I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it,” he tweeted, on Tuesday, after his offer was accepted.

Musk’s history with Twitter

Over the 12 years and 10 months that Musk has been on Twitter, he has been an avid tweeter and has amassed more than 84 million followers. His tweets have historically stirred up controversies, time and again.

In 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) imposed a $20 million penalty each, on Musk and Tesla, over his tweet about making the company private at $420 per share. The SEC noted that “Musk’s misleading tweets caused Tesla’s stock price to jump by over six percent on August 7, and led to significant market disruption.”

Further, in 2021, Tesla’s shares plummeted after Musk tweeted a poll on selling his stock.

With respect to being on the receiving end of criticism on Twitter, Musk had said in a 2018 interview with Bloomberg News, “I have made the mistaken assumption — and I will attempt to be better at this — of thinking that because somebody is on Twitter and is attacking me that it is open season.”

Moreover, the CEO of Tesla, who has recently portrayed himself as the flag-bearer of free speech throughout the process of taking over the social networking platform, had jokingly said in the same interview that people criticising him was “outrageous.”

However, following the acceptance of his offer to buy Twitter, Musk tweeted on Monday, “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”

Free Press, a media reform and net neutrality advocacy group, has pointed to Musk’s ‘troubling history’ on Twitter as a cause for concern. “A self-described free-speech absolutist, Musk has a troubling history of using the social-media network to intimidate and disparage others, including journalists, elected officials, owners of competing businesses and anyone else who might challenge his views,” the group stated.

The future of Twitter post its acquisition by the billionaire still remains unclear.

Manipur Media Outlets Boycott State Govt over Unpaid Bills

Media outlets in Manipur have decided to stop publishing all news related to the BJP-led state government with immediate effect from Sunday, over an issue of unpaid and overdue bills.

According to the statement issued by the journalists’ committees and unions of Manipur, which was accessed by Silverscreen India, the ban will continue until the pending bills are paid or until they reach an understanding with the parties concerned.

The decision was made at a joint meeting on Saturday evening at Imphal between newspaper publishers, editors, representatives of the Editors Guild Manipur, Manipur Hill Journalists’ Union (MHJU), and All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU).

On April 15, publishers and the aforementioned unions and committees had made an appeal to the state government and the state units of BJP and Congress, to clear all pending bills with respect to advertisements by 4 pm on Saturday.

When the bill payment was not cleared on the said date, the media bodies held the meeting on Sunday. The boycott was announced after the state government failed to clear the bills despite several assurances from the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary of the state.

The statement also mentioned that the media bodies had suspended an earlier boycott call, following the personal intervention of the above-mentioned government representatives.

“Bills running into crores of rupees are pending with the government, while bills running into lakhs for advertisements created for the recent assembly elections, have been pending with respect to both the ruling party and the opposition,” the statement said.

“Media houses in Manipur are reeling from financial strain, following the pandemic and the rising costs of news production,” it added, noting that they had appealed to the government to take a sympathetic view of the situation to avoid the confrontation.

“However, following no response from the state, through the course of the meeting, we have decided to go ahead with the boycott. In the case of the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee of the Indian National Congress, the meeting resolved to provide some time, following assurances given by its President,” the statement further read.

The media boycott will apply to all news stories related to the ruling parties of BJP and Naga People’s Front and the Manipur state government. It will also apply to all government advertisements, including those of corporations like the Loktak Development Authority.

However, the media ban excludes reportage on the offices of the Governor, the Speaker, Covid-19 and pandemic-related news like medical emergencies. Crime-related stories and those about law and order are also exempted from the boycott.

Taliban Detains & Abuses Afghan Journalist Mohib Jalili

Mohib Jalili, an Afghan journalist working as a presenter with the independent station 1TV in District 15 of Kabul, was detained and allegedly abused by the Taliban intelligence service last week. This is the latest attack on press freedom in Afghanistan, where media has been facing ever-increasing restrictions since the Taliban takeover of the country last year.

On Sunday, Afghan journalist Sharif Hassanyar took to Twitter and said his colleague Mohib Jalili was arrested by the Taliban intelligence service. He also added that Jalili was badly beaten and tortured. “Afghanistan journalists paying the price of freedom of expression,” he wrote.

Later, on Monday, in an interview with Tolo NewsJalili confirmed his detention and said that armed men stopped his car at a checkpoint in Kabul on Friday night, detained him for hours and beat him. He added that he is still unaware of the reason for the same.

As per the Afghan Journalists’ Centre, Taliban forces also asked Jalili to not make the case public. The media watchdog has issued a statement calling for the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to refrain from detaining, intimidating and harassing journalists.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Jalili was detained at the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) office where intelligence agents beat him with a gun, resulting in a large welt on his left arm. The agents also called him names such as the “devil journalist who ruins the Taliban’s reputation” and held him for about three hours before releasing him without any charges, Jalili said.

“The Taliban must stop the arbitrary detention, abuse, and beatings of Afghan journalists like Mohib Jalili and hold the group’s intelligence agents responsible for such actions,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington DC. “Repeated attacks on the media are only depriving the people of Afghanistan of access to essential information, which is a basic right,” he added.

Earlier, in March, the Taliban had arrested three journalists for reporting on the ban of a foreign drama series in Afghanistan. They were released a few days later.

Soon after, the Taliban’s GDI raided at least four radio stations in the southern province of Kandahar for violating a ban on music. As per the CPJ, they also detained seven members of the media at the time and released them later. In addition to this, the Taliban had ordered local outlets to stop airing content from three international broadcasters, BBC, Voice Of America, and Deutsche Welle.

NIA, SIA Raid J&K Journalist Fahad Shah’s residence and ‘The Kashmir Walla’ Office

The residence and office of Fahad Shah, the Kashmir-based journalist and the founding editor of The Kashmir Walla who has been in prison since February, were raided on Sunday by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the State Investigation Agency (SIA).

“The searches were conducted in connection with cases already registered against Fahad Shah at the SIA and the NIA,” a police official told The Tribune.

However, Shah’s counsel Umair Ronga informed Silverscreen India that a fresh FIR has been registered on Sunday which is related to an article published in 2011 by a PhD scholar named Ala Fazil, who has also been arrested on the day of the raid.

“They are planning to keep him (Shah) for long,” said Ronga. He also informed Silverscreen India that he will approach the court to seek a report from the concerned authority.

The 33-year-old journalist has been booked four times since February and has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, twice in 37 days. Shah was initially arrested on February 4 by the Pulwama police under the anti-terror law and sedition charges. However, he was granted bail 22 days later by a special court. Shortly after this, he was arrested again, this time in Shopian, in relation to a case filed by the Indian Army in January 2021 against two news portals, including The Kashmir Walla, for reporting that a local army unit forced an Islamic seminary school in Shopian to hold Republic Day celebrations on January 26.

Recently, on March 5, Shah was granted bail in this case. But, hours later, he was arrested again in relation to a new FIR registered by the Srinagar Police.

This third FIR was filed in relation to a story published by The Kashmir Walla about a May 2020 encounter in Srinagar, quoting family members of one of the deceased denying claims made by the police. He was once again booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

On March 11, Shah was remanded to police custody for five days and his bail hearing was scheduled for March 15. However, a day before this, the J&K Police invoked the Public Safety Act (PSA) against the journalist.

The Public Safety Act, 1978, of Jammu Kashmir is an administrative detention law under which an individual can be detained for up to two years without any trial or charge. The Act also allows for the arrest of an individual without a warrant or specific charges and often for an unspecified period.

Recently, on April 7, Shah filed a plea at the Jammu and Kashmir High Court challenging his detention under the PSA.

On Sunday, the SIA along with the Kashmir police teams began a raid at Shah’s residence at around 7.17 am and the office of The Kashmir Walla at around 8.20 am, as per a statement issued by The Kashmir Walla. The raid lasted for over three hours at both places.

According to the statement, the raid was conducted under a search warrant issued by the Additional Sessions Judge dated April 13.

During the raid at the publication’s office, the officials seized laptops that belong to two reporters, a Mac from the multimedia department, six hard drives and five CDs. They also checked the reporting dairies and phones of the two reporters, who were present at the office during the raid. During the raid at Shah’s residence, a laptop of another staffer at The Kashmir Walla, who was also present during the searches, a tablet device, and a voice recorder were seized.

According to the search warrant that was provided to both The Kashmir Walla and Shah’s family, the FIR against Shah has been filed under the sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (attempt to wage war against government), 124 (assaulting President or Governor with intent to restrain the exercise of any lawful power), 153-B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 13 (unlawful activities) and 18 (conspiracy) of the UAPA.

However, The Kashmir Walla mentioned that neither the publication nor Shah’s family is aware of any further details about this case.

Elon Musk Offers to Buy Twitter after Turning Down Seat on the Board

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and the world’s wealthiest man, has now offered to buy Twitter Inc, about a month after becoming the biggest shareholder of the social media company and days after turning down a seat on the board.

“I made an offer,” Musk tweeted, along with an updated 13D document that he had filed on Thursday, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In the offer, Musk said he invested in the social networking site as he believes in its “potential to be the platform for free speech” around the globe. “I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” he added.

He further went on to say, “However, since making my investment, I now realise the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”

Nearly a month ago, on March 14, Musk obtained a 9.2% stake in the company, by purchasing approximately 73.5 million shares. The news came to light earlier this month through a regulatory filing. Following this, the share price of Twitter saw a rise of as much as 27% and Twitter CEO Parag Agarwal had announced that the billionaire was being appointed to the board of the company.

However, earlier this week, Agrawal revealed that Musk had decided to not join the board of the social networking company.

Musk has now offered to completely buy Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash, a 54% premium over the day before the billionaire began investing in Twitter and a 38% premium over the day before his investment was publicly announced. “My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder,” he wrote and noted that he would strive to “unlock” the company’s “extraordinary potential.”

Calling it a “non-threatening, good investment,” Musk further said, “If the deal doesn’t work, given that I don’t have confidence in management nor do I believe I can drive the necessary change in the public market, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder.”

Twitter also issued a press release to confirm the non-binding offer. “The Twitter Board of Directors will carefully review the proposal to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the company and all Twitter stockholders,” it said.

Later, on Thursday, Musk put up a poll on Twitter asking whether taking the company private at $54.20 “should be up to shareholders and not the board members.” With eight hours left on the poll, roughly 84% of the respondents have answered ‘yes’.

“Will endeavour to keep as many shareholders in privatised Twitter as allowed by law,” Musk further tweeted.

US Human Rights Report Raises Concerns about India’s Press Freedom, Arbitrary Arrests, Other Human Rights Issues

The US State Department, in its 2021 Human Rights Report on India, has raised concerns over the state of press freedom in the country as well as other significant human rights issues. The report pointed to the arbitrary arrests of activists and journalists, extra-judicial killings by the government or its agents, curbs on free expression and media, and government harassment of domestic and international human rights organisations, among other issues.

The annual report was released by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday.

Restrictions on free expression and media, mentioned in the report, included violence, threats of violence, or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists, use of criminal libel laws to prosecute social media speech and restrictions on internet freedom.

The report mentioned the 16 activists, journalists, and scholars, who were arrested in connection to the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case, many of whom are still in jail without trial and have been denied bail multiple times. One of the accused in the case, 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy, died in July last year after suffering a cardiac arrest, while in custody.

The report pointed to several other arbitrary arrests and detentions by government authorities, and the unlawful interference with privacy as evidenced by the Pegasus spyware scandal. It also mentioned the lack of investigation into and accountability for discrimination and violence targeting minorities and vulnerable groups based on religion, social status, sexual orientation and gender.

Further, the report flagged the torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment by police and prison officials and the harsh and life-threatening prison conditions.

The report also mentioned the situation in the Kashmir valley, northeastern states, and Maoist terrorism-affected areas, where serious abuses, including killings and torture of armed forces, police, government officials, and civilians, kidnapping, and recruitment and use of child soldiers are committed. It mentioned the police summons issued to journalists Naseer Ganai and Haroon Nabi to appear before the police for reporting on a statement by the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front.

According to the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, at least six journalists were assaulted, detained, or questioned by police through August in the valley. As per the report, in 2020, the government introduced a new media regulation in the valley to empower local administration to determine “fake and antinational news” and to initiate criminal charges against journalists. The Kashmir Press Club protested the policy and alleged that the government was institutionalizing intimidation by exploiting the policy against media platforms critical of the government.

Referring to freedom of expression in India, the report also cited media watchdogs such as HRW, CPJ, Reporters without Borders, on how the Indian government “increasingly harassed, arrested, and prosecuted rights defenders, activists, journalists, students, academics, and others critical of the government or its policies.”

The report has further cited details of several cases where freedom of speech was curbed by the arbitrary detention of journalists, activists, and others. This includes the arrest of stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui along with four others by the Madhya Pradesh Police, for allegedly offending the religious sentiments of Hindus with jokes, and that of social activist Erendro Leichombam, for a Facebook post criticising a BJP leader.

The report also mentions the several arrests and FIRs in relation to the year-long farmers’ protest in 2021, including against sitting MP Shashi Tharoor, journalists Rajdeep Sardesai, Paresh Nath, Vinod K Jose, and  21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi, as well as the government order to Twitter to block accounts of journalists reporting on the same.

The report also mentioned the harassment and rape threats faced by women journalists in the country like Rana Ayyub and Scroll.in executive editor Supriya Sharma for publishing articles critical of the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Another case mentioned in the report is the complaint filed against journalists Ayyub, Saba Naqvi, Mohammad Zubair, Twitter, the news publication The Wire, and others, for reporting on the communal violence against an elderly Muslim man.

The report also pointed out the challenges filed by several human rights advocates and journalists against the controversial new IT Rules 2021 issued by the government.

Soon after the report was published, India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar shot back stating that while other countries are entitled to their views about India’s policies, New Delhi is “equally entitled to have views about their views and about the interests, and the lobbies and the vote banks which drive that.” He further cited a recent hate attack on two Sikh men in New York as an example of the human rights issues in the US.

Kashmir Journalist Aasif Sultan Booked Under PSA Days after Getting Bail

Aasif Sultan, a journalist with the Kashmir Narrator magazine, was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) on Sunday, just days after he was granted bail in another case.

As per a statement issued by the Journalist Federation of Kashmir on Monday, Sultan has spent 1318 days in jail, including his time under trial.

Demanding his immediate release, the JFK wrote that the continued imprisonment of an award-winning journalist like Sultan under the PSA was “another blow to press freedom in Jammu and Kashmir where the situation for the media has become extremely difficult.”

Srinagar Police had arrested Sultan back in August 2018 for allegedly sheltering terrorists in violation of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. This came soon after he published an article about the leader of the armed Hizbul Mujahideen group, Burhan Wani, who was killed by Indian authorities in 2016 giving rise to anti-government protests in Kashmir.

After nearly four years, on April 5, a special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) granted bail to Sultan in the case noting that the state had failed to provide evidence linking him to any militant organisation.

However, Sultan was reportedly kept at the Batamaloo Police Station in Srinagar instead of being released. His counsel told Committee to Protect Journalists that he was re-arrested under the PSA and the authorities said they would move Sultan to Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal jail, about 200 miles from Srinagar.

“In Aasif’s case, justice remained elusive,” wrote the JFK. “Sultan’s detention under PSA violates his right to liberty and freedom of expression as a journalist. His arrest followed a string of summons, questioning and booking of journalists in Kashmir. Journalists in Kashmir have always worked under perilous conditions, holding up values of press freedom in the face of dangers to life and liberty,” the statement further added.

Pointing out that media watchdogs such as the UN, CPJ, RSF, HRW and IFJ have also, time and again, called out the “intimidation and harassment” faced by journalists, the JFK demanded the immediate release of the Sultan as well as other jailed journalists in the valley.

Sultan is now the third journalist in the Kashmir valley to have the PSA invoked against him, after Sajad Gul and Fahad Shah earlier this year.

Gul, a journalism student and trainee reporter at The Kashmir Walla, was booked under the PSA in January after he was granted bail in a separate criminal conspiracy case.

On the other hand, Shah, who is the editor and founder of The Kashmir Walla, was booked under the PSA a day before his bail hearing in another anti-terror case in March. Shah had previously been arrested multiple times, with new cases foisted upon him each time he was granted bail in a previous one.

The Public Safety Act, 1978, of Jammu Kashmir is an administrative detention law under which an individual can be detained for up to two years without any trial or charge. The Act also allows for the arrest of an individual without a warrant or specific charges and often for an unspecified period.

Elon Musk Not Joining Twitter Board, Announces CEO Parag Agrawal

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and the world’s wealthiest man, has decided not to join the board of Twitter, announced Parag Agrawal, CEO of the social media company.

Last week, Musk became the biggest shareholder of Twitter after obtaining a 9.2% stake in the company, by purchasing approximately 73.5 million shares. Following the disclosure of this, the share price of Twitter saw a rise of as much as 27% and Agarwal had announced that the billionaire was being appointed to the board of the company.

However, with his appointment set to become official on Saturday, Musk had shared the same morning that he would not be joining the board, Agrawal revealed.

Explaining the decision to appoint Musk, the Twitter CEO wrote, “The board and I had many discussions about Elon joining the board, and with Elon directly. We were excited to collaborate and clear about the risks. We also believed that having Elon as a fiduciary of the company where he, like all board members, has to act in the best interests of the company and all our shareholders, was the best path forward.”

Announcing Musk’s decision not to join the board, he added, “I believe this is for the best. We have and will always value input from our shareholders whether they are on the board or not. Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input.”

Musk currently stands as the largest shareholder of Twitter, with more than four times the share of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

Hours after the news broke that Musk had become Twitter’s biggest shareholder, he ran a poll on the platform, asking “Do you want an edit button?” Agrawal retweeted this, saying the consequences of the poll would be important and asking users to “vote carefully.”

Twitter had earlier said that an edit button was in the works. And while there were speculations that it might be an April Fools Day prank, the company’s communications team later clarified that it was not a joke and said they had been working on the feature since last year. They further added that they did not get the idea from a poll.

According to BBC, over the weekend, Musk also suggested changes to the Twitter Blue premium subscription service, including slashing its price, banning advertising, and giving users the option to pay in the cryptocurrency dogecoin.

The Tesla founder further pointed out in a recent tweet that many of the most-followed accounts on the platform do not post anything and questioned if Twitter was dying.

Exclusive: Kashmir Journalist Fahad Shah Files Plea Challenging PSA at J&K High Court

Fahad Shah, the founder and editor-in-chief of The Kashmir Walla, filed a plea at the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, on Thursday, challenging his detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA) since March.

In a conversation with Silverscreen India following the filing of the plea, Shah’s counsel Umair Ronga said that he will “strongly” press for action against the authorities for “illegally” detaining Shah.

“The detention order of Fahad Shah under the Public Safety Act must be quashed and I will strongly press that costs may be imposed upon the detaining authority for illegally detaining the detenue,” he said.

On March 14, a day before his scheduled bail hearing on a UAPA charge, the Jammu and Kashmir Police invoked the PSA against Shah. But, no documents on the details of the charges were produced till the evening of March 16 and hence Shah was shifted to the Kupwara jail only then, after two days of detention, Ronga tells us. “I was just told by the concerned police station that he (Shah) was booked under PSA and his lodgement was in Kupwara. Hence, we were waiting for the dossier of charges so that we could challenge the order as well.”

Ronga feels that when the ordinary law is not enough to stop an individual from doing a certain act, that is viewed as being against the State, the authorities invoke such stringent laws. But, he adds, invoking PSA was unnecessary in this case since Shah was already booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which itself is a special act.

Shah founded the online magazine The Kashmir Walla in 2009. The 33-year-old journalist has also featured in reputed international publications, including Foreign AffairsTIME, and Foreign Policy, and is a winner of the 25th Human Rights Press Awards (2021) for explanatory feature writing for his coverage of communal violence in Delhi in February 2020.

He has been targetted by the J&K authorities since the beginning of the year and has been detained on fresh charges each time he was granted bail in a previous case.

Shah was initially arrested on February 4 by the Pulwama police under the anti-terror law and sedition charges. However, he was granted bail 22 days later by a special court. Shortly after this, he was again arrested, this time in Shopian, in relation to a case filed by the Indian Army in January 2021 against The Kashmir Walla and another news portal for reporting that a local army unit forced an Islamic seminary school in Shopian to hold Republic Day celebrations on January 26.

Shah was granted bail in this case on March 5. But, hours later, he found himself arrested again in relation to a new FIR registered by the Srinagar Police. This third FIR was filed in relation to a story published by The Kashmir Walla about a May 2020 encounter in Srinagar, quoting family members of one of the deceased denying claims made by the police. He was once again booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, making it the second time the UAPA had been invoked against him in 37 days.

The bail hearing for the third FIR was scheduled for March 15, but the Srinagar police invoked the PSA against Shah a day prior to this, thus extending his detention.

The Public Safety Act, 1978, of Jammu Kashmir is an administrative detention law under which an individual can be detained for up to two years without any trial or charge. The Act also allows for the arrest of an individual without a warrant or specific charges and often for an unspecified period.

The PSA dossier issued by the Jammu and Kashmir Police claims that Shah, through his website The Kashmir Walla, has been “propagating stories in a particular selective narrative which is in line with the ISI/Separatist propaganda.”

The dossier further alleges that he has been “disseminating anti-Indian sentiment in a very subtle manner” and accuses Shah of “legitimizing and romanticizing stone pelters and other instruments of violence.”

“You are an anti-national element under the cover of journalism and have always been found provoking, instigating gullible masses against the Government of India and Government of J&K through both electronic and print media,” it states.

On the evening of March 16, The Kashmir Walla issued a statement regarding Shah’s arrest and wrote, “Our legal team believes that Fahad’s Kafkaesque detention seems to challenge our judiciary, democratic values, and independent journalism at once. Now, they would soon approach the appropriate court to secure further legal remedies.

There is no bail procedure in this instance, says Ronga. The only way to get a person out under the PSA is by quashing the detention order passed by the Divisional Commissioner of Srinagar.

Ronga further adds all this is just exhausting Shah and his family, both mentally and financially, and it is just another way of stopping him from criticising the government and reporting the facts.

Earlier, the three-member Fact-Finding Committee (FFC) of the Press Council of India had observed that the media in Jammu and Kashmir is “slowly being choked” by the local administration. However, the council has not really taken any solid step against the detention of journalists like Shah or Sajad Gul, who has also been in jail, Ronga points out.

He feels that all the journalist associations and councils should approach the Supreme Court together. “This is not just an attack on Fahad Shah anymore, this is an attack on the entire community of journalists. If they do not stand up and fight together, they won’t be able to do justice to the profession. This is a time for everyone to come together. Much more is to be done.”

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & Instagram Directed to Take Down 30 Profiles Imitating ‘Aaj Tak’

The Delhi High Court has directed Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to take down profiles, channels and accounts on their respective platforms, which have been using logos and names deceptively similar to the Hindi news channel Aaj Tak.

The order to take down nearly 30 such profiles stated that “most of the offending names and logos used are infringing in nature.”

The suit was filed by Living Media India Limited, the parent company of India Today Group and owner of the news channel Aaj Tak. It stated that the registered trademark Aaj Tak is well-known and used extensively on social media. The company further added that they their goodwill and reputation is not limited to the Aaj Tak name, but also extends to “various formative marks of the same and other marks that end with the word Tak.”

The suit thus called for an injunction against the profiles on the aforenamed platforms that have been using logos similar to theirs or names derived from Aaj Tak or using Tak as a suffix.

The court passed a John Doe order that the infringing profiles, accounts, videos and channels, which use either identical or deceptively similar names, logos and writing styles as Aaj Tak, be taken down.

A John Doe order is one aimed at safeguarding the original creator’s intellectual property rights in artistic works like films or music, which is issued against an unknown defendant. In this case, the anonymous profile creators.

The order made an exception only in the case of the name ‘Sach Tak’.

The court further stated that in the event of future profiles or channels mimicking Aaj Tak being created, the same should be taken down within 36 hours of the complainant providing the offending URLs to the platforms in question.

The court has also directed the defendants to file their written statement within 30 days.

The next hearing has been scheduled for August 3.

Elon Musk Becomes Biggest Shareholder of Twitter with 9.2% Stake

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and the world’s wealthiest man, has now become the biggest shareholder of Twitter Inc after obtaining a 9.2% stake in the company, by purchasing approximately 73.5 million shares.

The share price of Twitter saw a rise of as much as 27% following the disclosure of the news on Monday through a regulatory filing.

Interestingly, this comes a few days after Musk, who calls himself a “free speech absolutist,” had taken to Twitter to criticise the social networking platform’s free speech policy. On March 25, Musk, who has 80.4 million followers on Twitter, had put up a poll stating, “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?”

After 70.4% voted in the negative, Musk further asked on March 26, if there was a need for a new platform and also said, “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?”

However, as per the regulatory filing, Musk bought his shares in the company on March 14.

“Given Elon’s prior comments about wanting to start a social media company, I would say it’s possible that he will increase his stake in Twitter or take a controlling interest in the company sometime soon,” said Tom Forte, an analyst at DA Davidson & Co.

“We would expect this passive stake as just the start of broader conversations with the Twitter board/management that could ultimately lead to an active stake; more aggressive ownership role of Twitter,” wrote Dan Ives, tech analyst at Wedbush Securities.

This move also comes amidst Musk’s ongoing legal battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has reportedly been monitoring his Twitter posts. In a court filing, Musk mentioned that the SEC’s oversight seemed “calculated to chill his exercise of free speech.”

Earlier, when Jack Dorsey resigned from his post of CEO of Twitter in November 2021 and announced that Parag Agrawal would take over, Musk had shared a meme on the social networking platform that depicted the latter as Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and Dorsey as Soviet secret police head Nikolai Yezhov being pushed into the water.

Hours after the news of Musk becoming Twitter’s biggest shareholder broke, he ran another poll on the platform, asking “Do you want an edit button?” which as of Tuesday, has 74% answering in the positive.

The edit button feature on Twitter has been a point of contention among users of the platform for a long time. A recent tweet from the company said, “we are working on an edit button.” However, it is to be noted that this tweet came on April Fool’s Day, which is customarily celebrated with pranks and practical jokes.

Delhi HC Permits Rana Ayyub to Travel Abroad

The Delhi Court, on Monday, granted permission to journalist Rana Ayyub, who was prevented from leaving the country last week in relation to an alleged money laundering case, to travel abroad. The court also allowed the writ petition filed by Ayyub challenging the Enforcement Directorate’s move.

On March 30, Ayyub was stopped at Mumbai airport just before boarding a flight to London, where she was invited by the Washington-based non-profit organisation, International Centre for Journalists, for an expert discussion on “online violence against women journalists.”

“I had made this announcement public over weeks, yet the ED (Enforcement Directorate) summon very curiously arrived in my inbox after I was stopped,” she wrote in a tweet the same day.

The ED is currently investigating Ayyub for allegedly violating foreign funding rules while collecting donations for Covid-19 relief over the last two years. Earlier, on February 10, the agency froze Rs 1.77 crore belonging to Ayyub based on an FIR registered against her by the Uttar Pradesh police, in September 2021. The complaint was raised by Vikas Sankrityayan, founder of an NGO called “Hindu IT Cell” and a resident of Indirapuram, Ghaziabad, who claimed that Ayyub had diverted large funds collected through the online crowdfunding platform Ketto for relief work.

The police invoked various sections of the IPC, IT Act and Section 4 of Black Money Act, alleging that she illegally acquired money from the public under the guise of charity.

The journalist, however, has stated that “the entire donation received through Ketto is accounted for and not a single paisa has been misused.”

A day after she was stopped at the Mumbai airport, Ayyub had approached the Delhi High Court to challenge the ED’s move.

During the previous hearing on April 1, the court had sought a status report from the ED, which was submitted on Monday. The ED stated in its report that Ayyub was not cooperating in the case and that she was not willing to join the investigation.

At the hearing on Monday, the agency also claimed that even though she had appeared for questioning when summoned, Ayyub had not provided all the documents requested and had also provided fake bills which indicated a case of cheating. Opposing her travel abroad, the ED said that the journalist might flee and never come back to the country.

Ayyub’s counsel, on the other hand, pointed out that she had written to the ED on February 2 expressing her willingness to cooperate in the investigation and had been in constant touch with the agency since. Ayyub’s counsel further stated that all the relevant documents were already with the Mumbai ED.

“The press is the fourth pillar of democracy. I am someone who speaks truth to power. I ask tough questions,” said Ayyub.

The ED has asked Ayyub to send all documents by April 20 while the court has asked to share her itinerary and contact details.

Sri Lanka Restricts Social Media Platforms in Backdrop of Economic Crisis

Sri Lanka has restricted social media platforms amid increasing protests over the ongoing economic crisis, the BBC has reported. The step came after the island nation declared a state of emergency and 36-hour-long curfew to prevent masses from gathering in capital city Colombo.

WhatsApp users in the country received a message saying that they could not use the platform as it was “as directed by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission”.

According to the Sri Lankan publication, Daily Mirror, the restriction was ordered by the comission in response to a request by the country’s defence ministry.

The blockage was confirmed by NetBlocks, a cybersecurity watchdog, which mentioned in its report that platforms including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and YouTube were restricted in Sri Lanka after midnight, on Sunday.

According to the real-time network data collected from over 100 vantage points across Sri Lanka, the measure covered all the major Sri Lankan network operators including Dialog, Sri Lanka Telecom, Mobitel, and Hutch.

However, the platforms can be accessed indirectly through the use of VPN services, which can work around government-imposed internet restrictions, NetBlocks noted in its report. It added that that the mobile app versions of some of the services remained accessible on certain devices due to the partial implementation of the ban.

The clamp down on social media comes in the wake of civil unrest in Sri Lanka, marked by the economic slump that led to the citizens seeking resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. An attack on Rajapaksa’s residence, last week, culminated in the deployment of the military that is now vested with the power to arrest suspects without warrants.

Social media platforms were being used to circulate information about protests being staged in different parts of the country, that saw its foreign reserves hit rock bottom, in 2021. The situation exacerbated after the government’s lack of buying power led to inflation and a shortage of petrol, diesel, cooking gas, kerosene, and milk powder, among others.

Not only were the examinations cancelled for millions of Sri Lankan students, due to a shortage in the supply of paper, but the authorities have also imposed 13-hour long daily power cuts to cut down on fuel usage.

The amalgamation of rising debt over the years, and the COVID-induced slump in tourism – one of the major contributors to the country’s economy – is said to have led to the current economic crisis.

Sri Lanka is currently seeking aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and neighbouring countries like India and China, to meet its daily needs.

Majority of Pro-Russian Tweets Amid Ukraine Crisis from India, Says NYT Report

The majority of Twitter accounts that have shared messages in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin during Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine are from India, according to their self-reported location information, says a New York Times report.

These users attempted to deflect criticism of the war by comparing it to conflicts instigated by Western countries, and made the hashtag #IStandWithPutin trend on Twitter across the world.

The reports states that users who said they were from India made up nearly 11% of this hashtag trend, in the two weeks after the invasion, while merely 0.3% were from Russia during the same time, and the United States contributed 1.6%.

“There were dense clusters of communities engaging with it [the hashtag], many of which were based in India or based in Pakistan,” said Marc Owen Jones, Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies and Digital Humanities at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, who analysed the accounts using #IStandWithPutin.

Other locations from where a significant amount of pro-Russian tweets came included Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.

A few days into the invasion, the Russian embassy in India took to Twitter and wrote that the Indian media has been requested not to use the word “war” but instead, to refer to it as a “special military operation.” This is notably similar to a new law in Russia that forces media there to follow the same.

“Russia did not wage a war against Ukraine and its people, but a special military operation aimed at demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, to end the eight-year war by Ukraine in Donbass. With regard to the crisis in Ukraine, the Indian media is requested to be accurate so that Indian public receives objective information,” wrote Russia in India.

Soon, right-wing groups like the Hindu Sena extended their solidarity to Putin, and even conducted rallies with Russian flags and raised slogans in support of the country.

“Russia and India have long-standing and deep security and economic relations,” said Graham Brookie, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. “If you’re Russia and you’re facing increased global scrutiny, increased global closure, you look to countries like India to at least abstain from as many efforts to isolate Russia as humanly possible,” he added.

The NYT report further states that some of the Twitter accounts in question used fake profile pictures, which raised suspicion with the researchers, while others gained thousands of retweets on their pro-Putin posts, despite having few followers and lower engagement on other tweets.

Although these activities call into question the authenticity of the accounts, there is no concrete evidence that this was part of a coordinated campaign to influence India’s sentiments about the war.

Twitter is reportedly still looking into the matter, and over a hundred accounts that used the #IStandWithPutin hashtag on the platform have been suspended for “coordinated inauthentic behaviour,” after Jones’ findings were published.

“Since the war in Ukraine began, we have removed more than 75,000 accounts for violations of our platform’s manipulation and spam policy,” Sinéad McSweeney, Twitter’s vice president of global policy, noted in a blog post, earlier this month. She added, “These accounts represent a wide range of attempts to manipulate the service — including opportunistic, financially motivated spam — and we don’t currently believe they represent a specific, coordinated campaign associated with a government actor.”

Meanwhile, Jones mentioned that some of the pro-Putin accounts in India likely belonged to real people. “If you can get enough people spreading a message, then real people will join in,” he said.

Rana Ayyub Moves HC After Being Stopped from Flying to London due to Money Laundering Case

Journalist Rana Ayyub has approached the Delhi High Court, on Thursday, to challenge the Enforcement Directorate move that prevented her from flying to London, by summoning her in the ongoing money laundering case.

Ayyub was stopped at Mumbai airport just before boarding a flight to London, where she was invited by the Washington-based non-profit organisation, International Centre for Journalists, for an expert discussion on “online violence against women journalists.”

Addressing the incident, Ayuub tweeted, “I was stopped today at Mumbai immigration from travelling to deliver this address and onwards to International Journalism Festival to deliver the keynote speech on Indian democracy. I had made this announcement public over weeks, yet the ED (Enforcement Directorate) summon very curiously arrived in my inbox after I was stopped.”

She also shared the announcement by the International Centre for Journalists that read, “We are thrilled to bring Rana Ayyub to the UK for an expert discussion about ‘Online violence against women journalists’, co-hosted with Doughty Street International & International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, in London, on Friday. The invitation-only event will focus on improving responses to the crisis.”

The Enforcement Directorate is currently investigating Ayyub for allegedly violating foreign funding rules while collecting donations for Covid-19 relief over the last two years.

Earlier, on February 10, the ED froze Rs 1.77 crore belonging to Ayyub. The journalist’s assets were frozen based on an FIR registered against her by the Uttar Pradesh police, in September 2021. The complaint was raised by Vikas Sankrityayan, founder of an NGO called “Hindu IT Cell” and a resident of Indirapuram, Ghaziabad, who claimed that Ayyub had diverted large funds collected through the online crowdfunding platform Ketto for relief work.

The police invoked various sections of the IPC, IT Act and Section 4 of Black Money Act, alleging that she illegally acquired money from the public under the guise of charity.

Following this, Ayyub has also been subjected to online abuse and harassment based on the allegations.

The journalist, however, has stated that “the entire donation received through Ketto is accounted for and not a single paisa has been misused.”

In February, the United Nations called for an end to the judicial harassment of the journalist and an investigation into the “relentless misogynistic and sectarian” online attacks against her.

Moreover, leading international publication The Washington Post ran a full-page statement expressing solidarity with Ayyub. “She has been the target of prejudiced investigations and online harassment,” wrote the publication, adding the hashtag #WeStandWithRana.

Oscars 2022: Indian Sound Designer Resul Pookutty Among Sound Artists To Oppose Exclusion of Certain Categories From Live Telecast

Oscar-winning Indian sound designer Resul Pookutty along with over 80 sound artists, has signed a petition opposing the Academy’s decision to exclude eight categories from the live telecast of the award show, on March 27. They will now wear their guild badges upside down, in a silent protest.

“This weekend, the Oscars may be turned upside down as we may see winners from all categories accept their Oscars upside down in a silent show of solidarity with the eight affected categories. We are all filmmakers of equal importance,” Karol Urban, President of the Cinema Audio Society, told Variety.

The letter is addressed to the Academy President, David Rubin, and the Oscars’ broadcaster ABC.

“As a community of sound artists, we respectfully disagree and are opposed to the changes that are being made for the broadcast of the 94th Oscars ceremony,” it stated, and added that the focus should be on “what we contribute in common, not what divides us.”

The list of undersignatories also includes Ian Tapp, who received the Oscar alongside Pookutty for their work on Slumdog Millionaire, Michael Hedges (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King), Myron Nettinga (Black Hawk Down), Dane Davis (The Matrix), Tim Cavagin (Bohemian Rhapsody), Jeffrey Perkins (Dances With Wolves), and Carlos Cortes and Jamie Baksht (Sound of Metal), among others.

In February, the Academy announced that eight categories, namely Documentary (Short Subject), Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Short Film (Animated), Short Film (Live Action), and Sound, were to be cut from the live telecast scheduled to be conducted at the Dolby Theatre.

“Instead, the in-person ceremony at the Dolby Theatre will begin one hour earlier, to present eight awards categories before the live telecast starts. Those presentations will then be edited by our creative and production teams and will be folded seamlessly into the live televised show,” Rubin had stated, after the Academy’s decision received criticism from industry members and netizens alike.

The step comes in as the Academy pushes to tackle the Oscars’ declining viewership rates since 2014. That year’s broadcast was viewed by 43.7 million. In contrast, the last edition, which included Nomadland’s historic win, was viewed by an average of only 10.4 million viewers, which marks a 56% drop.