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India: Statement of Concern on SLAPP Cases filed against authors, journalists and publishers

28 July 2014

print version of this article print version

We, the undersigned condemn the threats of defamation cases served on authors, journalists and now as publishers in writing.

We have read the book “Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis“ co-authored and published by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and the review article ‘”Ambani ki dukaan?” ‘by Sucheta Dalal, Managing Editor of moneylife magazine website and her messages on twitter and we found nothing defamatory either in the book or in the articles and tweets.
The impeccable credentials of Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Sucheta Dalal have been exemplary for Indian journalism in the era of paid news, embedded journalism and draconian corporate control over media.

We note that both the book and the article are based on information that is readily available to everybody in the public domain.

We are outraged by the assault on freedom of press and public interest through threatening letters. The attempt to intimidate journalists who report truth which commercial czars is quite reprehensible.

We express our support to the authors and publishers in question who have exercised their right to free expression enshrined in Article
19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India. The day such voices are silenced that would be a black day for Indian journalism and democracy.

We have observed that the authors have been fair to Late Dhirubhai Ambani, Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani and their companies, by
providing their version of events and circumstances.

Among other issues, the core issue that this scholarly and rigorously referenced book and the articles in question raise is: who all are
colluding with to deprive present and future generations of Indians of their claims of the natural resources of the country?

We have pondered over the questions like: “If gas price is low as per correct production rate then, why should Indians pay higher price of
gas? Who wants Indians to pay price of Indian natural resource as per US price rate?” We observe that the legal notices from Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani and their companies through their lawyers will have us accept that raising such questions is defamatory.

While delivering the speech at the award of Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, Harold Pinter said, “I believe that despite the enormous odds
which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory. If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us – the dignity of man.” Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, his co-authors and Sucheta Dalal and her colleagues have done their duty as citizens, writers and as purveyors of truth.

This undemocratic act by these richest persons of our country and the artificial persons-the companies- they run is totally unacceptable,
deplorable and constitutes an illegitimate advance against citizens’ rights.

Signatories

1. Prof. Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
2. Prof Ramsharan Joshi, former VC, M.C.N.University of Journalism,
Bhopal and journalist
3. Githa Hariharan, Writer
4. Garga Chatterjee, Indian Statistical Institute
5. Seema Mustafa, Editor, The Citizen, www.thecitizen.in
6. Prof. Ayesha Kidwai, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
7. Arun Kumar, Former Member, Press Council of India (XIth Term), General
Secretary, Bihar Working Journalists Union, Member, National Executive
Committee and Indian Journalists Union
8. Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
9. Siddharth Varadarajan, Journalist & Former Editor, The Hindu
10. Prof. (Dr) Dr.Mohan Rao, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
11. Wilfred Dcosta, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
12. Mitali Saran, Writer & Columnist
13. Subhash Gatade, author and human rights activist
14. Dr. Malem Ningthouja, Campaign for Peace & Democracy, Manipur
15. Irfan Engineer, Director, Institute of Peace Studies and Conflict
Resolution, Mumbai
16. Mukul, Dube, Writer, Photographer and social activist
17. Gautam Navlakha, human rights activist & journalist, Delhi
18. Omair Ahmad, Author
19. Trupti Shah, Activist, Gujarat
20. Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP)
21. Chittaroopa Palit, Narmada Bachao Andolan
22. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Feminist and Human rights activist, Mumbai
23. Faisal khan, National Alliance of People’s Movements
24. Yashwant, Editor, http://bhadas4media.com/, NCR
25. Pushpraj, Journalist and Author of Nandigram Diary, Patna
26. Rohit Prajapati, Activist, Gujarat
27. Xavier Dias, Editor, Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines, minerals & RIGHTS), Jharkhand
28. Prithvi Raj Sharma, founder member of Indian Community Activists network (ICAN)
29. Dilip Simeon, Historian and author of Revolution Highway, Delhi
30. Gopal Krishna, researcher, journalist and social activist, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
31. Dr Babu Rao Kalapala, Scientist
32. Dipak Dholakia, Citizens’ Solidarity–Forum for Water and
Sanitation (CS-FWS)
33. Kiran Shaheen, Memoirist and activist
34. Sudhir Pattnaik, Writer and Media Person, Bhubaneswar
35. Sankara Narayanan, social activist
36. Noor Zaheer Zaheer, Writer and Researcher
37. Preeti Sampat, Anthropologist, City University of New York
38. Persis Ginwalla, Social activist, Ahmedabad
39. B.R. Bapuji, Professor (Retired), University of Hyderabad
40. M. Thimma Reddy, People’s Monitoring Group on Electricity Regulation, Hyderabad
41. Shweta Tripathi, Social Activist
42. R.Subbarao, former Senior DGM, BHEL, Secunderabad
43. Sagar Rabari, Jamin Adhikar Andolan, Gujarat (JAAG)
44. Krishnakant, Social activist, Gujarat
45. Ashok Tankashala, Journalist and Writer, Hyderabad
46. Dr Paresh R. Vaidya, Scientist
47. Roger Moody, Writer & Researcher
48. E. Theophilus. citizen, Uttarakhand
49. Leo Saldanha, Environmental Activist and author
50. Soumya Dutta, Environmental activist, Author & educator, Convenor
- Climate & Energy, Beyond Copenhagen
51. Nityanand Jayaraman, Writer and Social Activist, Chennai
52. Jai Sen, CACIM, New Delhi
53. Souparna Lahiri, Independent Researcher
54. Ravindranath, River Basin Friends, Dhemaji, Assam
55. Gautam Mody, General Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative
56. Lalit Surjan, Chief Editor, DeshBandhu, Raipur, Chattisgarh
57. Narayan Jee Choudhary, Social Activist, Bihar
58. Sukla Sen, Writer & Social Activist
59. Ranjan Panda, Social Activist, Odisha
60. Shriprakash, Film maker, Jharkhand
61. Stan Swamy, Jharkhand Bachao Andolan
62. Ramaswamy R Iyer, former Secretary, Government of India
63. Rabin Chakraborty, Retired Teacher, Calcutta University
64. Vidyadhar Atkore, Member, Western Ghats Forum, Bangalore
65. R.Selvam, Co-ordinator, Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers Federation,
Erode District, Tamil nadu
66. Rajendra K Sail, Social Activist, Chhattisgarh
67. Dr.Gabriele Dietrich, NAPM
68. Suresh Bhat B, Citizen, Mangalore
69. YP Chawla, Researcher, Writer, Advisor, Electricity Regulation
70. Charles Chasie, citizen
71. Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy, citizen
72. Dr Sudhirendar Sharma, Director, Ecological Foundation
73. Prakash Louis, Indian Social Institute, Bangalore
74. Murli Manohar Prasad Singh, editor, Naya Path, Janwadi Lekhak Sangh
75. Rekha Awasthi, Janwadi Lekhak Sangh
76. Ramesh Sharma, Social Activist
77. M K Tayal, Social Activist
78. Gourinath, Social Activist
79. Krishna Soni, General Secretary, AVARTAN Theatre Group, Hyderabad
80. Rajendra Ravi, Social Activist
81. Sujit Patwardhan, Parisar, Pune
82. Pallav Kumar, researcher
83. Shree Prakash, SUM Net India
84. Bharati Sinha, Communications Director, Greenpeace India
85. Afroz Alam ‘Sahil’, Editor (Investigation), www.beyondheadlines.in
86. Anil Sinha, Deccan Herald, New Delhi
87. KM Bhai, Social Journalist, Kanpur
88. Pankaj Chaudhary, Poet, Assistant Editor, Forward Press
89. Surendra Grover, Media Durbar
90. Mangalesh Dabral, Poet
91. Sanjeev Kumar, writer
92. Ranjana Bisht, journalist
93. Ramesh Sharma, INSAF
94. Varun Shialesh, Writer
95. Subhash Gautam, journalist & research scholar
96. Sudha Bharadwaj, trade unionist and human rights lawyer, Bilaspur
Chhattisgarh
97. Ulka Mahajan, Sarvhara Jan Andolan
98. Mukta srivastava, Shoshit Jan Aandolan
99. Dr Dinesh Kumar Mishra, noted river biographer and environmentalist
100. Soumik Banerjee, Researcher & Practitioner, Sundarpahari, Godda, Jharkhand
101. Pankaj Bisht, Writer and editor, Samayantar
102. Qaneez Sukhrani, Social Activist, Pune
103. Fulan Bhattacharji, Citizen, Tripura
104. Nandita Dutta, Citizen, Tripura
105. Suchitra Sarkar, Citizen, Tripura
106. Balaji Pandey, Director, Institute for Socio-Economic
Development, Bhubaneswar
107. Manoj Misra, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, Delhi
108. Udayashankar Chaturvedi, scientist
109. Asit, Writer & Activist
110. Dr. Anant Phadke, Pune, Shramik Mukti Dal, (Democratic)
111. Ashok Jain, former Chief Engineer, DVC
112. Ritu Khanna, Translator
113. Gurmeet Singh, Satnam, Author Jangalnama
114. Nand Kumar Kashyap, citizen, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh
115. K. Ashok Rao, President, National Confederation of Officers’ Associations (NCOA) & Patron, All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF)
116. Prathmesh Mishra, Architect, Bilaspur
117. Ravi Singh, citizen and environmentalist, Agra
118. Walter Mendoza, Indian Network on Ethics in Climate Change
119. John Dayal, Delhi, India
120. Narendra Aniket, Writer & Journalist
121. Anita Rego, citizen, India
122. Shama Zaidi, citizen, India
123. Sunrita Sen, citizen, India
124. Jayaprakash N.D., citizen India
125. Vivek Shah, citizen, India
126. Sant Mathur, Chennai, India
127. Dhrubo Mukherjee, India
128. Mahi Pal Singh, India
129. Anuradha Dutt, India
130. Mohan Tikku, India
131. Leila Kabir, India
132. Manoj Kumar, India
133. Ratanlal Purohit, India
134. Shesh Narain Singh, India
135. Susai Sebastian, India

* SLAPP stands for Strategic Litigation Against Public Persons

SEE ALSO:

India’s Press Under Siege

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/opinion/Indias-Press-Under-Siege.html