Public Meeting on Justice, Human Rights and Media Trials – The Death of Khurshid Anwar and Beyond

Campaign for Khurshid Anwar invites you to a public meeting on Justice, Human Rights and Media Trials – The Death of Khurshid Anwar and Beyond on Saturday, 22nd February, 2014 at 3:30 PM at the Press Club of India, Raisina Road, Windsor Palace, New Delhi.

Speakers:

Arundhati Roy, writer

Saeed Naqvi, veteran journalist

Syeda Hameed, member of the Planning Commission

Seema Mustafa, veteran journalist and editor in chief of TheCitizen.in

Poornima Joshi, political editor of The Hindu Business Line

Shohini Ghosh, Professor at AJK Mass Communication Research Centre

Anusha Rizvi, film maker

Saheba Faruqui, All India Democratic Women’s Association

… And other academicians, activists and journalists.

It has now been two months since the shocking suicide of well-known activist Khurshid Anwar but the police have still not registered an FIR on the matter.

Following his death on the 18th of December, Dr Anwar’s family filed a formal complaint with the police on 23 December 2013. This complaint accuses several persons of propagating a false charge and causing irreparable harm to Dr Anwar’s reputation which ultimately drove him to suicide.

Dr Anwar’s family and friends have come together as the Campaign for Khurshid Anwar to press for a thorough investigation. This demand does not presuppose his innocence of the serious charges levelled against him.

Our Demands:

1. A thorough probe, without assuming the guilt of either the accused or the accuser. The probe must go into the entire chain of events unfolding on Facebook and the events pertaining to the distribution of the CD shot by Madhu Kishwar.

2. Action against those who vilified Dr Anwar on social media even before charges had been framed, ultimately pushing him to suicide.

3. The formulation of a transparent set of guidelines on crime reporting by TV news, to preserve the dignity of both the accusers and the accused, and to prevent cases of ‘trial by media’.

Strangely, our democratic and reasonable demands have been misrepresented, variously, as: harmful to ‘feminist causes’, an attack upon people from Northeastern states, an act of vengeance etc.

We are shocked to learn that a demand for a thorough probe, without assuming guilt on either side, can be reacted to in this manner. Particularly when a life has been cut short. Those asking us to ‘move on’ are suggesting they have no faith in the legal process.

Any complaint, whether ours or the one levelled against Dr Anwar, cannot be treated as the gospel truth and can only be substantiated in the light of an investigation and due legal proceedings.

Dr Anwar was denied a legal process in life. We appeal to self-anointed czars of various kinds of ‘isms’ to not deny the same to him in death, and to avoid trampling upon the rights of his family. 

Trial And Error | The Caravan

A balanced and well written article by Supriya Sharma of The Caravan on the motivations and the dangerous implications that follow when the media assumes the role of the court of law.

She notes, “Even when well intentioned, recent coverage of sexual violence has tended to degenerate rapidly into a series of trials by media, with the media arrogating to itself and the public the powers of both judge and jury. As a consequence, the media has chipped away at the already precarious agency of assault victims, and also undermined the possibility of justice being delivered.”

She echoes our dissatisfaction with hyped and slanted media reports when she writes, “A news report that relays only the essential details of an alleged assault might make for less riveting copy, but it is also less likely to impinge on the privacy of a victim or unfairly denounce an alleged assailant.”

She ends the article on an important note, “In the recent high-profile cases, we might have done better to stick to the more neutral “complainant”. That would have amounted not to unfairly doubting the testimony of the women who came forward, but to rightly doubting the media’s ability to be a court of law.”

Read the full article here.

Kiran Shaheen supports our demand for thorough probe into the case.

Khursheed was a dear friend and I always believed in his genuineness and still do.
I wish his name comes clean and we must make efforts .
– Kiran Shaheen

Dr. Vasanthi Raman supports Campaign For Khurshid Anwar.

Dear Friends,
I am with you wholeheartedly in this issue. While I did not know Khurshid Anwar personally, but I do know his brother Ali Javed and also know what the struggle is all about. I am fully with you and all others. You may add my name in any petitions/letters etc.
– Vasanthi Raman

Shamshul Islam stands with us in our demand for justice.

we stand with you in this fight.
-shamsul islam for nishant natya manch

Shumaila Kausar of Insaan Foundation Trust supports our demand for a thorough investigation.

I support this campaign and this case should be investigated and proper code of ethics should be implemented.

With solidarity
Shumaila Kausar
Program Coordinator
Insan Foundation Trust
100, Street 18, Sector F-11/2
Islamabad Pakistan
phone: 0092-51-2111481, Fax: 0092-51-2111482
www.insanfoundationtrust.orgwww.peaceandwomen.net

Ruth Vanita, an acclaimed feminist writes about how giving up important principles such as ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and ‘guilt proven beyond a reasonable doubt’ serves to destroy the fragile foundations on which our democratic systems are based.

She opines, “…in cases of alleged rape, until the facts are proven, dubbing the accused a ‘rapist’ and the complainant a ‘victim’, as the media routinely do, is wrong. This is particularly urgent in view of the draconian provisions of the Criminal Amendment Act, which allows the death sentence for a second rape conviction, and defines “a demand or request for sexual favours” as sexual harassment.”

She warns, “The term ‘sexual favour’ is a Victorianism, revealing puritanical, anti-sex assumptions. This puritanism appears to be spreading worldwide, under the aegis of a certain type of feminism. At the American university where I currently teach, some feminists have tried to impose a conduct code on campus, using almost exactly the same language.”

Read the entire article here.

Statement on the killing of Nido Tania

The Campaign for Khurshid Anwar condemns the death of Nido Tania. We stand in solidarity with the protesters demanding justice.  As we’ve been demanding in the case of the suicide of Khurshid Anwar, the incident deserves a thorough investigation so that his killers as well as those in the police who acted in a lax manner are brought to book.
We unequivocally condemn the racial typing and discrimination that students and visitors from the North East face in other parts of the country. We welcome and support the North Eastern students’ demands that their history, culture and lifestyles be made a part of curricula at the national as well as at state board levels. Intermixing and dialogue should be encouraged among people of all cultural backgrounds.
We are concerned to note the increasing tendency among all sections of society to resort to violence and law breaking to resolve disputes. We reiterate our considered opinion that weakening of democratic systems and processes most seriously harms the cause of the underprivileged and the excluded, whether they be women, Dalits, tribals, religious and linguistic minorities or people from the North eastern region.
We condemn the attempts of some to paint our Campaign as against people from the North East. Not one member of this Campaign has made any statements against the rights and dignity of the complainant who has levelled serious allegations against Dr Khurshid Anwar. At the same time, much as in the case of Nido Tania, a life has been lost and his family members and friends deserve closure in the form a thorough investigation into the events of his public shaming and death.
We reiterate that it is only within a prism of guaranteed human rights, including the presumption of innocence, that a meaningful framework of women’s and minority rights can be constructed. An attack upon the principles of natural justice (such as the presumption of innocence) is an attack upon human rights and all right thinking persons should deplore such a trend.

Condemning attempts to malign or vilify the complainant and the accused.

We reiterate our strong condemnation of any attempts to malign, vilify, reveal the identity of or otherwise target the complainant who has brought serious charges against the late Dr. Khurshid Anwar.

We dissociate ourselves from anyone doing so. Members of Campaign for Khurshid Anwar have not been responsible for any such statement. We had issued an appeal stating the same on the 25th of December 2013, which was published by Kafila.org and Bargad.org. Please find the appeal here:

http://kafila.org/2013/12/25/an-appeal-for-restraint-to-all-by-the-family-and-friends-of-khurshid-anwar/

We have constantly stated that justice for both parties can only be achieved through a thorough investigation without assuming the guilt of either the accused or the accusers. We have filed a police complaint demanding the same and are keen to have the due process of law followed for justice in this case, both for the complainant and Dr. Anwar. We want a free and fair investigation and trial in this case. Our demands have been as follows:

1. A thorough and objective probe into the matter, without assuming the guilt of either the accused or the accusers, including but not limited to the entire chain of events unfolding on Facebook and the events pertaining to the distribution of the CD shot by Ms. Madhu Kishwar. Which interests were involved in the energetic distribution of the CD in various towns of north India within a short period of time? Who was financing this operation? There are many questions, answers to which can only be unearthed by a competent investigation.

2. Action, within the ambit of the legal and regulatory framework in place, against those actors on social media and broadcast media who vilified Dr Anwar even before charges had been framed, ultimately pushing him to suicide.

3. The formulation of a transparent set of guidelines on crime reporting by TV news, to preserve the dignity of both the accusers and the accused, and to prevent cases of ‘trial by media’.

We believe that the talk of invoking ‘rape shield’ is valid when it comes to Madhu Kishwar and others for video-recording the girl’s statement with her face exposed, for revealing the name of the girl and distributing the CD through North India.

We also want the above mentioned people to be brought to book for the vilification and identification of both the complainant and the accused.

There are attempts to obfuscate the due process of law to protect the interests of those who revealed the girl’s name and face, distributed the CD of her recording and created a social media trial. There are also attempts to introduce a regional angle to the same to needlessly politicize the issue.

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Khurshid Anwar case in a nutshell

Read this to know the salient points about the case in a nutshell, along with some quotations of distinguished people supporting our demands.

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