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Gauri Lankesh murder case: No fear of the law

Journalists have been silenced for other reasons, too

Business Standard 

No fear of the law

With reference to the editorial, “Dissent under attack” (September 7), attacks on media personnel and social activists are a threat to democracy. However, examining such attacks mainly through the communal prism is inadequate.

Journalists have been silenced for other reasons, too. Ram Chander Chhatrapati, who ran an evening daily, was killed in 2002 allegedly at the behest of Dera Sacha Sauda leader Gurmeeet Ram Rahim for exposing his crimes. Rajdev Ranjan of Hindustan was murdered allegedly by criminal-turned-politician Mohammad Shahabuddin of Siwan. These journalists were focused on unearthing the illegal activities of powerful businesses and political elements. 
Honest media personnel are confronted for their intrepid reporting, first through inducements, then financial —withholding of advertisements in their media outlets — and other forms of coercion. When all this fails, they are murdered. Several social activists and those who have used the Right to Information Act to expose wrongdoers also lost their lives.

Protection of such people is the duty of the state government concerned. If it fails in this, quick identification of the culprits and their judicial punishment are essential. The Maharashtra and Karnataka governments have failed in the three cases cited in the editorial, with the culprits yet to be traced. The brutal and atrocious murder of Gauri Lankesh is the fourth such case. It indicates that anti-social elements have no fear of the law. Both citizens and the media have to persistently force the government to wake up and act swiftly.

Y G Chouksey, Pune

Identity crisis

First, we had to give PAN for some transactions. Then came Aadhaar. Then we had to link PAN with Aadhaar. Now, the government want us to link our telephone numbers with Aadhaar. The latest is that you need an identity proof to book air tickets. All this is understandable, but why is the government reluctant to link Aadhaar with voter identity? That should have come first.

We can go even further — voter lists linked by Aadhaar, electronic voting machines linked with the Aadhaar database. Let’s go back to 1996 when PAN was made compulsory. You had to have a PAN if you had a car, house, telephone, credit card and club membership. But it was not made mandatory for the stock market. Why? Because it seems the finance minister then wanted to give promoters, political leaders and others time to unwind their benami holdings. Even the proposal of the Securities and Exchange Board of India to have a Market Participant Identification Number (MAPIN) was sabotaged before the public sector undertaking disinvestments. This facilitated the Roopalben scam.

The PAN story is now being repeated with Aadhaar. Will the government have the courage to link Aadhaar with voter identity card before the 2019 general elections? Simultaneously, we need a strong Prevention of False Identity Act that would prescribe life imprisonment and even death for having, making or using a false identity, with the quantum of punishment depending on the motive of the crime. After all, if you have a false identity, you do not exist.

T R Ramaswami, Mumbai

Rajan’s sincerity

The entire fraternity of pensioners — those of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), banks and the LIC included — are moved by what former governor writes in his book, I Do What I Do.

The day Rajan took over as governor in September 2014, he had told leaders of the United Forum of Officers and Employees that updated pension for the staff was a priority for him. In his book he has summed up his inability to resolve the issue during his tenure despite making efforts. His sympathetic words for the erstwhile staff of the and his yearning for the government to address the issue are testimony to his honesty.

Ramanath Nakhate, Mumbai

First Published: Thu, September 07 2017. 22:49 IST