The cases of Palghar students Shaheen Dhada, Rinu Srinivasan and Kanpur-based cartoonist Aseem Trivedi have once again ignited the debate on freedom of speech in India. This time, the issue has been raised by students of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay.
The Entrepreneurship Cell (E-Cell) of IIT-B, a non-profit students’ body through its social campaign ‘Raise Your Voice’ has decided to create awareness amongst fellow students and youth about Section 66A of IT Act. Calling the law “irrational and biased”, the students have also decided to protest against the government through country-wide signature campaign.
“In recent times, there have been numerous instances like the arrest of Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Srinivasan over Facebook posts and cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on charges of sedition, that have shaken the foundation of right to freedom of expression and speech,” said Sumeet Wadhwa, student of IIT-B and manager of E-Cell events.
He added, “Through E-Cell, we decided to run a campaign which will have both online and offline components of debate, competitions and signature campaigns spread over a month-and-a-half. This way, we will be able to reach out to a large number of students and youth.”
“Through this initiative, we want to encourage youth to raise their voice against illegal incidents and bring them to the notice of authorities. Freedom of expression is our fundamental right. Why should we feel helpless or be afraid of expressing ourselves,” said Minal Thukral, another student and organiser of ‘Raise your voice’ campaign.
Objection! My Lord The organisers posted two images on their Facebook page and asked people to raise objections against those images as to why they felt these were offensive. The aim of this was to put people in the place of authorities and ask them to prove that even the most innocent of images and posts can be offensive.
Expresso The organisers posted an image on their Facebook page, and asked people to share their views on the image.
Post-a-card To protest against this irrational and biased law, students can send postcards to E-Cell, IIT Bombay mentioning why internet is important to them and why is it unfair to gag views in a democracy. The last date for sending a postcard is January 20.
Pehal This segment is an initiative to provoke people to raise their voices against illegal incidents they come across like children being forced to work and contractors taking bribes. People can share images or videos of such incidents. E-Cell will forward it to the authorities and try its best to get the problems solved.
Signature Campaign The E-Cell will launch a signature campaign and visit top colleges in Pune, Delhi, Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Indore and Manipal (Karnataka). The aim is to collect over 10,000 signatures.
via Indian Express.