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Metoo reaches Congress doors, scribe alleges molestation by UPA Minister

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MJ Akbar

New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) The #MeToo movement that has singed the entrainment and media industry alike besides engulfing Union Minister M.J. Akbar, on Tuesday reached Congress door with journalist Sonal Kellogg alleging that she was molested by a “powerful politician” and a minister in the Congress-led UPA-I government.

Giving an account of her ordeal on website dailyo.in, Kellog without naming the minister, said he would “greet me with a kiss” every time they met and once “pressed one of my breasts”.

“During my time, a Cabinet minister, in-charge of one of the ministries which I was covering, would always greet me with a kiss when I went to meet him,” wrote Kellog who in February 2006 had shifted to Delhi from Ahmedabad joining the Asian Age’s main edition.

“This minister, quite an advocate of women’s rights and empowerment, is highly educated. He studied from St Stephen’s College and did his masters from one of the top universities in England. He is very articulate – but he is also very touchy-feely.

“In Gujarat, where I come from, politicians don’t greet women journalists with hugs and kisses. But he would hold my face and try to kiss me on the mouth,” said Kellogg who is now the chief content writer at Vama Communications, Ahmedabad.

She said that she didn’t report the matter then as “I was new in Delhi and thought if I said anything, it would be viewed as having a small town mentality”.

“I am not able to speak up against authority and mostly just try to manage to stay clear instead of shouting or slapping or something like that,” said Kellogg, a survivor of “long-term child sexual abuse.”

She said the last time she met the MP in his bungalow in early 2014 when he went “too far.”

“At that time, I was in-between jobs. I was sitting across the table and talking to him. After some time, the minister got up to go to the washroom which was on my left, so he walked right across the table and while passing me by, he stretched his hand and suddenly pressed one of my breasts.

“I was taken aback, not quite expecting this, but I did manage to say, eDon’t touch me.’ Before entering the washroom, he asked, eWhy? What is the problem?’ I told him, ‘Don’t touch me because I don’t like it’. He went to the washroom and then came back, sat down and resumed the conversation as if nothing had happened,” wrote Kellogg, adding she moved back to Ahmadabad and never met the politician.

“I would like to say that even if a man is testing whether his advances are welcome or not, he can’t start with squeezing the breasts of a woman. The least he can do is see whether she is interested – you cannot just grab a woman and think it is okay. Also, in this case, the minister is married and is a father of grown-up daughters, so it is definitely not okay.

So, why didn’t I report the matter? Who was I going to report it to? I was in-between jobs and as I said earlier, I didn’t report my sexual abuse as a child either for more than a decade and a half, in fact I never reported it. I started to speak about it publicly only a couple of years ago,” she added.

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After taking VRS, Bihar DGP Pandey may take political plunge

Meanwhile, Pandey has denied all allegations levelled by Shiv Sena and other political parties.

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Gupteshwar Pandey IPS

Patna, Sep 23 (IANS) A day after taking voluntary retirement, speculation is rife that Bihars former Director General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey may begin his political innings. Though nothing has been finalised yet, Pandey says he will talk to people and plan his journey ahead.

Speaking to IANS on Wednesday, Pandey said that it was not necessary to join politics to serve the people. Pandey, who is active in social service, said after discussing with people, he will decide on the road ahead and then disclose his future plans.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, he said he was under pressure from the people of many districts in Bihar, including Jehanabad, Begusarai, Valmiki Nagar and Bagaha to contest the forthcoming assembly elections. Thousands of supporters from several places in the state, were in touch with him, he added.

Pandey came into the limelight for his vocal comments after the death of late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput who was born in Patna. After the Supreme Court endorsed the CBI investigation recommended by the Bihar government, Pandey had said that Rhea Chakraborty “does not have the aukat (stature)” to comment on the Chief Minister.

Following the VRS , Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut launched a sharp attack on Pandey, saying he had been carrying out a political agenda in the Sushant Singh Rajput investigation while holding the post of DGP Bihar. “IPS or IAS officers of the country should be fair and must not be influenced by any political party,” Raut had said.

Meanwhile, Pandey has denied all allegations levelled by Shiv Sena and other political parties.

“People are connecting my VRS with investigation of Sushant Singh Rajput and blaming me of taken political advantage of it. I want to say that the FIR was registered in Patna since Sushant’s old father could not travel to Mumbai. He was not satisfied with the Mumbai Police investigation. As DGP Bihar, it was my duty to help Sushant’s father.”

Following a sharp attack by Shiv Sena over Pandey’s retirement, the BJP has defended Pandey’s right to join politics if he so desires. Nikhil Anand, the chief spokesperson of BJP Bihar unit, said it was best left to Pandey. “I don’t know why parties like Shiv Sena are making a hue and cry over his VRS or joining politics. We live in a democracy and it is his democratic right. The opinion of BJP or any other political parties is not required,” Anand said.

Pandey has praised Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Responding to a question he said, “Nitish ji is very strict in terms of administration and policing. He does not intervene in policing nor does he tolerate any outside interference in its functioning.”

Pandey, a 1987 batch IPS officer, took over as Bihar DGP last year. He was scheduled to retire in February 2021 but he took early retirement. Pandey, who has held the post of Superintendent of Police in several districts in Bihar, is renowned for his social work.

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SC directs no coercive action be taken against Facebook VP till October 15

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Supreme Court

Supreme Court issued notice on Facebook India’s VP and MD, Ajit Mohan and directed that no coercive action will be taken against him till 15 October, when it will take up the matter for further hearing in the case.

The Apex court was hearing the petition filed by Mohan against the notice issued by Delhi Legislative Assembly for deposing before it.

A 3-judge bench was headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.

Moreover, the top court issued notice to Delhi Assembly, Centre on plea by Facebook VP on summons asking him to depose on Delhi riots. SC recorded that Delhi Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee will not hold a meeting, till further orders.

Earlier, Mohan moved Supreme Court against the summons of the Delhi Assembly Committee, a notice issued by Delhi Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee to appear before it for its alleged role in the Delhi violence in February.

Facebook, Mohan, and others had filed the plea in the top court against the Delhi Assembly panel. Since Facebook had refused to come on first summon, the assembly panel had to sent second summon.

The petitioners had moved the apex court challenging the two summons issued by the respondent, Legislative Assembly, NCT of Delhi and others, against them — on September 10 and 18 — on the grounds that they violated the fundamental rights of the petitioner under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 21, guaranteed under part III of the Indian Constitution, the petition claimed.

The petitioners had approached the top court to quash these two summons issued by the Legislative Assembly, NCT of Delhi and others, against them.

The petitioners said that the first summon and second summon issued by the Peace and Harmony Committee of Legislative Assembly, NCT of Delhi and others directed one of the petitioners, the Vice President and Managing Director to appear before the Committee on September 23, 2020.

Facebook provides a safe place for expression. Notably, the petitioners also provide easy-to-use tools that allow users to report objectionable content. The petitioners provide users with options to report content that violates its publicly available community standards, the petitioners claimed.

The Committee’s insistence on compelling Ajit Mohan, to speak, and its categorical threat to his non-appearance as a “breach of privilege of the Committee and [to take] necessary action as deemed fit”, gives rise to a clear and present danger to the fundamental rights and liberties of petitioners in the ultra vires proceedings before the Committee, they claimed.

Accordingly, the petitioners are compelled to approach this court to avoid imminent irreparable harm to themselves, they added.

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Bilkis from Shaheen Bagh is TIME magazine’s hundred most influential people of 2020

Bilkis gave hope and strength to activists and student leaders who were being thrown behind bars for standing up for the unpopular truth in a democracy that was sliding into authoritarianism, and inspired peaceful copycat protests across the country.

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Shaheen Bagh

When I first met Bilkis, she sat in the midst of a crowd, surrounded by young women who were protesting with placards displaying verses of revolution. With prayer beads in one hand and the national flag in the other, Bilkis became the voice of the marginalized in India, an 82-year-old who would sit at a protest site from 8 a.m. to midnight.

She had been sitting there ever since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act, which could block Muslims from citizenship in the country, in December, and she continued through the cold winter. Bilkis, along with thousands of women who joined her in Shaheen Bagh, a neighborhood in New Delhi, became the symbol of resistance in a nation where the voices of women and minorities were being systematically drowned out by the majoritarian politics of the Modi regime. Bilkis gave hope and strength to activists and student leaders who were being thrown behind bars for standing up for the unpopular truth in a democracy that was sliding into authoritarianism, and inspired peaceful copycat protests across the country.

She said to me as a parting note: “I will sit here till blood stops flowing in my veins so the children of this country and the world breathe the air of justice and equality.” Bilkis deserves recognition so the world acknowledges the power of resistance against tyranny.

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