An Open Letter To Mumbai Mirror ‘s Sanyukta Iyer, who mocked Producer Vikas Gupta saying ‘TV producer Vikas Gupta who took centre stage dressed in a Superman Tee and coordinated white-red shoes.’ Journalism or Personal Attack?
“I was returning from office , I got a call from a journalist saying that Piyu has tried to commit suicide and is in kokilaben hospital , like everyone i thought this to be a April fools joke . I immediately called her and heard a caller tune about leaving . i felt uneasy . i called a common friend to take her mums number and than messaged another friend saying hi and got a reply she is no more , in that split second i froze and knew it wasn’t an april fools joke . I called him and asked him to reach the hospital while i am on my way there and the messages started .
I informed a few close friends while i reached there and rushed to see Pratyusha , met Mac who went out to talk to Rahul , who had left the body and was on a call . i sat alone in one corner of the ward with her body , she was life less , but i was hoping she would get up any moment. i spoke to the doctor , who said whatever has to be spoken he has spoken to the family member and will wait only when the police comes will give any information , it doesn’t matter if you are friend , we r letting u sit here is a big deal . i wanted to speak to rahul but than i saw piyu lying there alone . i couldn’t move my body to leave her bedside , i was there for almost an hour with her alone although it seemed like that it was way more , this was pratyusha banerjee the girl who was the biggest face on indian television 2 years back . lying dead and no-one is here . her family is back home. the boy friend has dumped her body and said going to get her parents tickets done and run away . i looked at her face and realised it could be any of us . we all go through such perfect expectations out of our lives . it could have been me , i had just come out of a very disturbing phase and had almost contemplated ending it all but i had 2 people who i am grateful for the rest of my life to help m out of it . Pratyusha was no more and slowly the news travelled . people started pouring in .
Our common friends who were shooting were leaving their shoot and coming directly from there . than there were the ones who don’t even know her that came for reasons best known to them but some for publicity as the press was there while some out of curiosity and some had genuine concerns . a lot of people were there . its truly said in mumbai the life is so fast that we don’t have time for each other and sometimes a tragedy brings people together . Piyu did the same and as in the night we waited for the police to come , rahul to return , we spoke about her and what was she going through . we realised how selfish have we all been . we all knew she was in a bad relationship and yet none of us took charge and got her out of this . we go to know how she had tried to reach many of us for getting the right support or sometimes just to let the steam off , we discussed good and the bad times while waiting for rahul whose phone was switched off by than . in between we had celebs coming to see her body and video taping it secretly to calling her mom and recording the phone conversation which somehow reached the news channels and the country was now listening to cries of a wailing mother kudos . so i started directly talking to the mom and with the help of others booked their tickets . the news was flashing its a suicide , she was depressed , some really silly celebs went ahead and said she has borrowed 5 thousand rupees from her . it is this time we decided that 4 or 5 of us will talk to the media and say do no assume what has happened till the report comes out . There were lot of us but we decided to let the people who are faces that people know very well and people piyu was close to speak to counter the mini celebs spreading rumours . we wanted to do something but dint know what , we were all in shock .
we all went home as her body was taken to another hospital and the wait was for her parents to come tom , as i was trying to get sleep . i kept thinking what if it was me . in 2 weeks all this will get over people will move on and that will be the end of everything . i messaged one of the people who has helped me and said thank you but couldn’t sleep but somehow decided that what i was not able to do when piyu was alive i will do now . i will help on all possible ways to help her parents and get her to leave this world with dignity and not the way the people are wanting her to be remembered with all the fake testimonies from different people . she wasn’t a depressed broke actress as depicted who killed herself all over the media .
well the next part i don’t need to mention it was all over the media , and everyone got a version of it it was a media tv show . Piyu mom and dad were devastated and in no condition to talk also . they were made to give statements and than they took the body for cremation . they asked the police they haven’t seen what happened that night but want them to get justice for her daughter , she was a strong girl and she couldn’t have killed herself . there were numerous friends here who wanted to give statement as they knew more on the life of pratyusha here in mumbai than the parents as they dint live with her , they were told , that they will be called soon . while the cremation was happening as the rituals were being held , everyone notice marks on her face . they were marks you get if you get hurt , on her nose and her cheek , they were the same marks that people have been talking about since yesterday , now was the time we finally got to see her properly after that night and somehow we got sense and we clicked pics and made video of her .
Pratyusha ashes were given to the parents and we all planned to have a prayer meeting on tuesday after the rituals are done. Pratyusha had left the world .
we all were disturbed and were waiting to give statements to the police but no calls came and we were told that rahul has been set free , it was a pure case of suicide with no other reason but it could be depression and no money, so we all decided to quickly call media to tell them that there is more to this and we have been trying to follow up with the police and in a few hours we called for a pc . i was meeting someone for dinner and decided to push it and reach for the pc and same is the case with everyone else . the pc happened . we informed everyone about the marks on her face , the late night call she made before she was found dead asking for help to get out of the relationship and the call she made to kamya punjabi that rahul was cheating on her . what was communicated was that there is more than what meets the eye . we wanted to answers to how come there were marks on her face if she hung herself . it wasn’t a happy relationship that is being portrayed and a girl in a happy relationship doesn’t one fine afternoon get up and kills herself .
and yes i was wearing a white superman t shirt and white shoes .
A letter was submitted to the police station requesting to take statement of the people who can give vital information on the case
We all decided to have a peaceful prayer meeting for Pratyusha on tuesday, the first time in 3 days i slept for 5 hours I got up to numerous messages and missed calls from well-wishers and random people on a report in mumbai mirror . i read the report and my heart sank . and i thought of the people mentioned in the report who haven’t cared about their work sleep health and running everywhere being ridiculed and compared with people who have been extremely stupid and insensitive . There is a mention of actresses like Mouni Ada and Sara coming to hospital with makeup man etc , for the stupid journalist who is not aware and has mentioned names should know they were leaving their sets and coming directly so no they did not think of first doing a face cleaning ritual and than come and see the dead body of their friend . They were in tears they will have their staff who were with them during the shoot to console them , their friend, one of them had died. but you have decided to malign their image and portrayed them as publicity hungry women doing makeup and coming to give interviews . how convenient
Both heer patel who has been duped by rahul of 25 lakhs and sheetal malviya of 8 lakhs as told by us were unknown to us and till the claims were checked we did not want them to be standing there cause if what they said was untrue it would end up making the entire pc a joke and for your information we have checked and they are true and will hopefully be coming in front of the media as it shows a series of crime against women and duping them of money but Ms journalist you completely decided not to ask or clarify and had immediately judged and written how bad of us not to let people speak and if they were wrong the next thing you would have written is that we planted them and yes i am still in my superman t shirt .
if a girl is found dead and her boyfriend claims they were partying till 5 in the morning and we have a girl who is a friend of Pratyusha and Rahul’s rakhi sister leena dias had come to testify in the media that she got a call from pratyusha at 2.30 am crying and asking for help and was being tortured by saloni sharma and even after mentioning that there is a cctv footage of it available with the police you chose to make such a vital information into a joke again by calling me superman in the same sentence as pratyusha being tortured . your journalism ethics are to be clapped .
Incase you are not aware in the last three months the two acting jobs , Pratyusha had done were with me and not even charged for one of the pilots and people say she was without money , none the less we have been in touch with each other not as many time we should have been but we were . she was in touch with rahul raj singh every day for the last three months and more and he ran away leaving her body while we are right here fighting for her . Being a journalist doesn’t give you a right to assume and print anything that you might feel like and this personal attack is outrageous, you have moved on to ajaz khan to dolly bhindra but have not forgotten superman everywhere , either you love the super hero very much or you have loved the t-shirt too much . just for your information i hadn’t gotten time to go back home so changed and borrowed it from a friend ravi dubey as none of his clothes fitted me except this t-shirt and i had a dinner to go to . the shoes were the same i wore since 2 days . if you want that superman t-shirt , please contact ravi , he will give it to you .
i am not sure if you have real friend who you have had a heart to heart to . piyu and i were close and we have discussed our lives our dreams and the most important thing that we wanted and children was her dream so while media was hounding that pratyusha was pregnant and could have killed herself for that reason , was a height of stupidity and like you said superman jumped here and decided to say that if she was pregnant and knew about it than she would have never taken a step like this no matter the circumstance . while you being a woman had to make fun of that as well actually its not about a man or a woman it about just being sensitive which in your case is completely out of the window .
i am not sure what your problem is Sanyukta Iyer , you at this point of time seem like one of the celebs you mentioned in your article who wants attention and will write anything so people can notice you . Bravo you succeeded but remember this because of your this article the next time if genuine people want to get up and help a friend , they will think twice cause people like you for their own benefit whatever in this case may be will humiliate them on clothes , intent etc , you have defamed me and my friends . your article is defamatory , it has caused me a lot mental harassment and people questioning my intent . you have not even spoken to me and tried to ask questions and just made assumptions and printed . Mumbai mirror which is such a respected paper has let it happen. is it a thought out attempt to target or just bad way to sell your story . whatever reason it might be it has caused the damage it has done .
This letter also has been submitted to the police station where we requested the police to take statements from friends who have information and attaching a pics of Pratyusha where her bruises on here face clearly visible , so let everyone see , what we have seen and reacted . is this just a suicide or there is more to it .
Mumbai Mirror this is for you . please think about this . if a person close to you passes away and you have no answers . you see her face covered with bruises and its been called a suicide and when you raise a voice is this what you paper does calls them names makes fun of their clothes and try to humiliate them, #ShameMumbaiMirror
We are filling a complaint against your publication because it is a direct attack and look like a personal vendetta to malign some of us.
Whatever happens on this case moving forward we at least will look back and will not have any regrets , we did give our best to get justice for our friend. We feel extremely bad on posting these pics but have realised this is the only way to let people know the truth, there are loopholes and her parents and friends need answers , when its being told in the media that its a suicide case why is piyu face full of bruises None of us will be giving anymore statement on this . please talk to the police”
and the others who don’t want to be named but have helped .
All About The Bhainsa Riots
Communal riots broke out in the town of Bhainsa in Telangana after altercations between Hindu and Muslim youth-led to stone pelting on March 7, 2021. Thirty-eight people have been arrested in connection with these riots, the majority being members of the right-wing nationalist organization Hindu Vahini. The police are on the lookout for 70 more people whose parts in the riots have been established.
What Happened In Bhainsa
Two, two-wheeler bourne youths named Thoth Mahesh and Dattu Patel attacked a Rizwan in Zulfiqar Gali. Rizwan and his friends went looking for the two attackers in Batli Gali. There they were beaten up by Mahesh and Dattu and their friends. Stone pelting followed between people of the two communities after one of the friends of Mahesh and Dattu again went to Zulfiqar Gali to buy alcohol and picked up a fight with members of the other community. A constable who tried to intervene and stop the fight sustained head injuries. Section 144 was imposed in the riot-affected areas.
Y. Nagi Reddy, the inspector general of the north zone, has said that 26 cases have been registered about the violence. The 38 people that have been arrested also include four minors. Twelve people, three of which were police officers, were injured in the stone-pelting. Four houses, thirteen shops, four rickshaws, six cars, and five two-wheelers were set on fire riots.
IGP Reddy said, “People belonging to one group were informed, gathered, and were sent to places under the guidance of Abdul Khabeer alias Baba, AIMIM party’s Counsellor from 15th ward.” He added, “The second group was led by Thota Vijay, Counsellor from 8th Ward and ex-president of Hindu Vahini. Some of the arsons committed on the second and the third day and night…..were led by Santhosh, who is the district president of Hindu Vahini.” He also clarified that the investigation was being conducted in an unbiased manner and that the instigators were identified using CCTV footage and Nenusaitham initiative geotagged cameras.
The Other Side Of The Story
Bandi Sanjay Kumar, the state BJP chief, alleged that the police were torturing Hindu Vahini members. He said that the party would complain to the central government against the state police’s third-degree interrogation methods. He also wrote to Telangana’s governor accusing Muslim “infiltrators” from Maharashtra of causing communal tensions in Bhainsa.
“AIMIM leader Mohammad Jabir Ahmed is the cause for communal violence in Bhainsa. They have been involved in land grabbing for a time now and when the local Hindus…… have been spreading the news via social media, communal violence has begun,” BJP MP Dharmapuri Arvind told news agency Asian News International.
The official spokesperson of the ruling TRS Krishank pushed back criticism of the State Government by saying, “Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has always been very serious against the communal violence in the state.” He assured action against the riot perpetrators and said, “Strict action will be taken against the people resorting to communal violence in the state and also those who are spreading rumours across social media and are creating disturbances in the society.”
Why is Nodeep Kaur Making Headlines?
Nodeep Kaur is a 23-year-old Dalit Labour Rights Activist from Punjab. She is a member of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sanghatan, an organization based in the Kundli Industrial Area of Haryana which works for workers’ rights. She was involved in a protest with labourers at Kundli, on the border of Haryana and Delhi. The protest was about demanding higher wages for workers. It was also in solidarity with the ongoing farmers’ protests against the new farm laws. She was arrested on January 12. A string of charges was made against her following her arrest, including Section 307 (Attempted Murder). Her sister Rajveer Kaur alleged that the police have tortured and sexually abused Nodeep.
Nodeep Kaur comes from a Dalit family from Gandera Village in the Sri Muktsar Sahib district of Punjab. Her family is one of the activists, her parents are associated with a farmer’s union, and her sister is a member of the Bhagat Singh Chhatra Ekta Manch. After the lockdown restrictions eased, she started working at a factory in Sonipat, Haryana. She also joined the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan around this time.
In a video shared by Canadian Poet Rupi Kaur, Nodeep Kaur can talk about Farmer-Labourer Unity. She speaks in support of the farmers’ protests and says that it is not a sole cause, and everyone needs to come out in support of the farmers.
on january 12—haryana police abducted nodeep kaur from her tent at singhu protest. since then she has been beaten & sexually assaulted while under police custody.
nodeep is 23 yold punjabi dalit woman & trade union activist who has been bravely speaking up about the protests. pic.twitter.com/XvN6TJwKj8
— rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) January 31, 2021
Why Was She Arrested?
Nodeep is a dedicated Labour rights activist. She was involved in a protest, and her associates at the Kundli border demanding higher wages for workers. The protest coincided with the ongoing farmers’ protests and was in solidarity with them. On January 12, a team of Sonipat Police went to the Kundli Industrial Area (KIA), acting on the information of alleged manhandling of management and the staff of a unit and extorting money from them. The police said Kaur and her associates attacked police with sticks and injured seven personnel. Her associates managed to flee, but she got arrested following the incident. She was produced before the court and sent to jail the same day.
The police say they did not seek remand. Sonipat Superintendent of Police said there were prior complaints of extortion against Nodeep Kaur, and a case was registered on December 28 2020. A slew of charges was pressed against her, including Murder, Extortion, Theft, Rioting, Unlawful Assembly, Extortion and Criminal Intimidation and other offences under Sections 148, 149, 332, 353, 186, 384, 379-b, 307. She was sent to the Karnal Jail in Haryana following her arrest.
Allegations Of Sexual Abuse And Torture In Custody
Rajveer, Nodeep’s older sister, visited her in Karnal Jail after her arrest. There, Nodeep told her of the alleged assault by police in Custody. She has alleged that there were no women police officers, and she was taken aside by male cops and beaten black and blue. Rajveer said that she was beaten publicly by male officers, dragged by her hair to the police van. She also said that Nodeep was beaten with sticks and shoes, including her private parts, which caused heavy bleeding. There are also allegations of sexual abuse by male police personnel.
The police vehemently deny these allegations and said that she was kept in the ladies’ waiting room and was accompanied by two female police officers for the entire duration of her stay.
Nodeep claims no medical examination was conducted following her arrest, violating Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code. She also claimed that she was made to sign blank papers in Custody. On the contrary, police say that she was taken to the civil hospital to undergo a general medical examination and special medical examination for sexual assault by a lady doctor. But Nodeep did not undergo a medical examination, and she gave a written statement to the doctor stating that she did not want to be examined since she wasn’t assaulted. Denying these allegations, the police said that Kaur did not speak about any assault in front of the magistrate. They called these allegations “an afterthought”.
Her advocate Arshdeep Singh Cheema questioned the statement and asked why the police made two separate requests for medical examinations in the first place.
On January 15, she applied for a medical examination before the magistrate. The magistrate ordered the examination had to be done on January 18. However, her medical examination happened only on January 25, 13 days after her arrest. Cheema claimed that this delay was done to allow her injuries to heal. The medical report later produced before the court pointed out that she did have purplish bruises on her body caused by blunt objects or weapons. Cheema said that these were indicative of the torture she was subjected to by the police.
International Attention For The Case
This case received very little attention before February 6. It was brought to the spotlight by Meena Harris, niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris.
Weird to see a photo of yourself burned by an extremist mob but imagine what they would do if we lived in India. I'll tell you—23 yo labor rights activist Nodeep Kaur was arrested, tortured & sexually assaulted in police custody. She's been detained without bail for over 20 days. pic.twitter.com/Ypt2h1hWJz
— Meena Harris (@meena) February 5, 2021
Her tweet came in response to the hate she received from Right Wing Hindutva elements alongside American and Canadian celebrities like Rihanna, Mia Khalifa and Rupi Kaur for speaking in support of the farmer’s protests.
Rajveer expressed her disappointment in the media about the little coverage it got before Harris’s tweet. Following sustained international recognition, many people domestically started speaking actively about the case and demanding Nodeep Kaur and other jailed activists’ release.
Progression Of Court Proceedings
Three First Information Reports (FIRs) were filed against Kaur, FIR numbers 26, 649 and 25. On February 2, a local court denied her bail application. However, the Government authorities were quick to act after international and domestic furore about her arrest picked up post-February 6. On February 8, the Punjab State Commission for Scheduled Castes asked the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) to provide relief.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo motu cognizance of Kaur’s illegal confinement and alleged police torture on February 12 after receiving complaints of the same via email on 6th and 8th February. The court posted this matter to be heard on February 24 (also the initial date of Kaur’s third bail plea hearing).
On February 12, she got bail on one of the cases, FIR no. 649, which dealt with rioting and other charges. On February 15, she got bail on the second case, FIR no. 26, which dealt with extortion. Her third and final bail application for the case registered under FIR no. 25, which dealt with murder and other charges, was filed on February 15. It was supposed to be heard on February 24, but the court adjourned the case after finding that the state’s medical records were not put on record. The matter was heard finally on Friday, February 26, where she finally got bail.
Justice Avneesh Jhingan also heard the suo motu matter along with the bail plea. This matter will now be discussed in April. Now that Kaur has received bail in all three cases, she got released from jail.
Julian Assange’s Extradition Rejected by UK Court
On January 4, the UK Court ruled that the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States of America to face criminal charges including breaking a spy law, as his present mental health complications suggest the risk of suicide attempt.
However, USA has stated that it would pursue the extradition and US prosecutors are ready to appeal the decision to London’s High Court.
Who is Julian Assange?
The 49-year-old Australian-born Assange has been accused of 18 offences regarding the release by WikiLeaks of a wide range of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables that may endanger the safety of lives. Assange, who spent a significant part of the last decade either in prison or self-imposed confinement, has been denied bail and remains in jail.
The US Justice Department claims that it has won on all the legal points, including political motivation and freedom of speech-related arguments, and thus, it would continue to seek Assange’s extradition.
USA’s government take:
The Obama administration did not prosecute Assange due to concerns about the precedent the case could set in free speech and journalism. Assange’s legal team has held the outgoing US President Donald Trump responsible for pressuring the concerning launch of the US effort for extradition, which could cause a grave threat to press freedom.
However, the White House has not issued any immediate comment on the ruling and Trump administration has given mixed messages. In contrast, the President-elect Joe Biden’s side has refrained from commenting.
Trump had shown his approval to WikiLeaks shortly before the 2016 presidential election for releasing hacked emails which landed his opponent Hillary Clinton in an embarrassing position. However, after Trump took office, his first CIA director Mike Pompeo stated that WikiLeaks was “a non-state hostile intelligence service”.
Ruling of UK Judge and further deteriorating condition of Julian:
Judge Vanessa Baraitser said that her judgment was based only on the possibility of Assange attempting suicide if kept in a US maximum security jail as he suffered from severe depression at intervals and had been diagnosed with autism.
In May 2019, half a razor blade had been discovered in his London jail cell. Assange also told the medical staff that he was having suicidal thoughts and making plans for the same. Baraitser also said that Assange made regular calls to the Samaritans suicide-prevention charity from prison.
According to Baraitser, “I find that Mr Assange’s risk of committing suicide, if an extradition order were to be made, to be substantial. The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man, who is genuinely fearful about his future.”
For Assange’s supporters, the ruling was a victory, but the threat of extradition still looms large over his head. His partner Stella Moris said, “I call on the President of the United States to end this now: Mr President, tear down these prison walls, let our little boys have their father. Free Julian, free the press, free us all.”
People in support considers Julian as “Hero”:
Assange supporters consider him to be an anti-establishment hero, a victim for exposing US wrongdoings in Afghanistan and Iraq. Supporters claim his prosecution is to be a politically motivated assault on the press and freedom of speech.
However, the US prosecutors and Western security officials regard him to be a dangerous enemy of the state whose reckless actions in leaking classified information, has imperilled the lives of the agents, named in the material.
On the other hand, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that his country would extend political asylum to Assange and he is in favour of pardoning him.
History of Legal trails with different governments:
Assange’s legal battles began when Sweden sought his extradition from Britain over alleged sex crimes. He lost the case in 2012 and fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London and stayed there for seven years. In April 2019, Assange was finally dragged out from there and imprisoned for breaching British bail conditions. The Swedish case has been dropped till that time. The US Justice Department formally asked Britain last June to extradite him.
However, Baraitser has rejected Trump’s team’s claims for pressuring the US prosecutors due to lack of evidence of hostility on Trump’s part and shunned the claims of the case being political and threatening freedom of speech.
She also said that Assange’s chances of getting a fair trial in the USA were adequate though she believes that Assange had breached investigative journalism boundaries. But she also feels that if Assange is found guilty, he would be sent to ADX Florence maximum security prison (SAM) in almost complete isolation where he could devise a plan of committing suicide, despite their preventive measures.
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