Facing intense political pressure from the Congress over its alleged role in favouring the BJP on its platform, social networking giant Facebook on Friday said that it’s a non-partisan platform that has removed — and will continue to remove — content posted by public figures in India which violate its community standards.
Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director, Facebook India, said in a statement that Facebook has always been an open, transparent and non-partisan platform where people can express themselves freely.
“Over the last few days, we have been accused of bias in the way we enforce our policies. We take the allegations of bias incredibly seriously, and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form,” Mohan said.
He was referring to the controversy generated after a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report claimed that Facebook’s content regulation policies favoured the BJP.
The WSJ report sparked a widespread debate in India, raising serious questions over Facebook’s content regulation practices.
The report claimed that Facebook India’s Public Policy Head Ankhi Das had told staff members that punishing violations by BJP politicians would damage the company’s business prospects.
Mohan said the policies at Facebook are “ever-evolving to take into account the local sensitivities, especially in a multicultural society such as India”.
“An example is the inclusion of caste as a protected characteristic in our global hate speech policy in 2018,” Mohan said.
The Facebook India chief said that the employees represent a varied political spectrum who have either served in many administrations or have political experience and take immense pride in being active contributors to public service.
“Despite hailing from diverse political affiliations and backgrounds, they perform their respective duties and interpret our policies in a fair and non-partisan way. The decisions around content escalations are not made unilaterally by just one person; rather, they are inclusive of views from different teams and disciplines within the company,” he elaborated.
Amid the debate, BJP’s IT cell chief Amit Malviya has claimed that Mohan worked with the Planning Commission during the UPA era.
According to Mohan, there is no place for hate speech on Facebook but they need to do more.
“We know this work is never over, which is why we will continue to invest in our efforts to combat hate speech on our services. We welcome the opportunity to engage with all parties — political or otherwise — who want to understand our content policies and enforcement more,” he said, adding that Facebook’s commitment to India and its people is unwavering.
The Congress has demanded that Facebook should order a high-level inquiry into its leadership team and their operations in a time-bound manner, and publish and make transparent all instances of hate speech since 2014 that were allowed on the platform.
“Facebook India should appoint a new team so that the investigation is not influenced,” said Congress leader K.C. Venugopal in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
With IANS inputs
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Citing Pakistan, China, IAF says need more fighter aircraft
Citing the increasing number of fighter aircraft in the Chinese and Pakistan air forces, the Indian Air Force on Tuesday said it would need more combat aircraft to meet security challenges.
“The environment around us remains hostile and there would be a requirement for 42 squadrons of fighter aircraft by the Indian Air Force. We have to see the case of China and Pakistan also,” Indian Air Force Vice Chief Air Marshal Sandeep Singh said. He was speaking at a press conference where he was asked whether the IAF could lower its authorised squadron strength number from 42.
The IAF chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said the aircraft numbers authorised to the force were as per the requirement in view of the security challenges.
IAF is authorised to have 42 squadrons which would mean around 800 fighter aircraft but at present it is stuck at 30 squadrons only due to delays in the development of the LCA Tejas as well as in the procurement of high-ability multirole fighters.
The situation is going to worsen further with the planned decommissioning of the MiG-21s in near future and all squadrons of Jaguar, Mirage-2000 and MiG-29 fighters by the middle of the next decade. The IAF has plans of inducting around 200 LCAs and 114 multirole fighters in the next 15 years along with six squadrons of Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft.
Pakistan which has to defend borders mainly with India only has around 25 squadrons of combat aircraft while the Chinese Air Force has a large number of aircraft including fifth generation fighters like J-20.
Parliamentary panel rejig: BJP takes Home, Sena gets IT committee, TMC left out
A major reshuffle took place in the Parliamentary panels on Tuesday as Congress lost the Home and the crucial Information Technology and Communications panels among others. According to an official notification, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi who headed the Home panel was replaced by BJP Rajya Sabha MP and former DGP of Uttar Pradesh Brij Lal who has been named as the new chair.
Another loss for the grand old party is losing the committee for IT which was chaired by Lok Sabha MP Dr Shashi Tharoor. The Eknath Shinde-led faction of Shiv Sena now has its chairmanship in three-time Lok Sabha MP Prataprao Jadhav.
The Standing Committee for Environment and Forests is currently with the Congress party. Jairam Ramesh remains its chairman.
Professor Ram Gopal Yadav from the Samajwadi party, who had been holding the post for a long time as chairman of the Health Committee, has been replaced by BJP MP Bhubaneshwar Kalita.
It will be the gain of a committee for DMK as the party has the chairmanship of the Industry Committee with Tiruchi Siva as chief. YSR Congress which had earlier had Commerce has swapped for the big Transport Tourism & Aviation Committee with Vijaysai Reddy as chief.
The panel on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports will now be chaired by BJP MP Vivek Thakur after its earlier chairman Dr Vinay Shahastrabuddhe retired.
It’s ‘celebration’ time: TRS leader distributes liquor ahead of launch of KCR’s national party
Amid the buzz over Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao announcing his national party on Wednesday, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader Rajanala Srihari distributed liquor bottles and chicken to locals in Warangal.
In a video, Srihari is seen distributing liquor bottles and chicken to the people who are waiting in a long queue for their turn. There are also large cutouts of TRS chief KCR and his son and minister KT Rama Rao where Srihari is distributing the chicken and liquor bottles.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) can announce the national party on Wednesday. All preparations have also been made regarding this.
Amid this, the shocking video of the TRS leader has surfaced. The new party has not been announced yet, even before TRS leader Rajnala Srihari was seen distributing liquor bottles and cock to the local people in Warangal.
The act invited widespread criticism from the political fraternity. Slamming KCR, Congress leader Madhu Yashki called the Chief Minister a “brand ambassador of liquor”. Making it too personal, he alleged that KCR is “known for his drinking habits”.
Yashki alleged that KCR is trying to make the people and youth of the state “addicted to liquor and drugs”. “KCR is a brand ambassador of liquor. He not only drinks liquor but is also involved in the liquor scam. So this establishes that the TRS party supremo is known for his drinking habits. His passion for drinking and the way he is promoting liquor sales in Telangana. Instead of giving jobs, he is distributing liquor,” he said.
According to the sources, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao is likely to announce his national party on the occasion of Dussehra. TRS party’s meeting will be held on Dussehra, 5 October at Telangana Bhavan, an official release from K.Chandrashekar Rao’s office said on Monday.
So there are speculations that KCR, may reveal the details of his approach toward national politics after the meeting. It is also believed that a delegation of TRS party leaders will leave for Delhi to change the name of the party. According to the sources, it is also believed that KCR will be addressing a public gathering on October 9 in the national capital.
TRS leader and former SAAP Director Rajanala Srihari on Tuesday distributed liquor and chicken to the poor on the occasion Of Dussehra in the Warangal East constituency.
TRS leader bought 200 chicken and 200 liquor bottles for distribution. He then distributed them to 200 porters. Srihari and his team called the porters for a gathering where cutouts of Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao and state IT & Industries Minister. KT Rama Rao were erected as they received free chicken and liquor bottles.
Srihari said that prayers will be offered on the occasion of Dussehra for Chief Minister KCR to become the national party president.
He further said that special pujas were offered for KCR to become the Prime Minister and KTR to become the state party president.
CM KCR is likely to announce the details of his national agenda on the occasion of Dussehra.
Also, KCR on Monday clarified that the TRS General Body meeting would be held on Dussehra (October 5) at 11 AM in Telangana Bhavan.
According to the sources, it’s strongly believed that CM KCR will announce the name of his national party on the occasion of Dussehra.
There are speculations that KCR may reveal the details of his approach to national politics after the meeting.
It is also believed that a delegation of TRS party leaders will leave for Delhi to change the name of the party.
According to the sources, KCR will address a public gathering on October 9 in Delhi.
Centre declares two top HuM members as terrorist under UAPA
The Centre on Tuesday declared two top Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen (HuM) terrorists including the Chief Launching Commander of the terror outfit Showkat Ahmed Sheikh as terrorist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 on charges of spreading terror violence in Jammu and Kashmir.
Another active member of HuM, Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandoo, was also declared as terrorist under the UAPA for “radicalizing and motivating youths to join terrorist ranks to carry out terror activities in the Kashmir Valley”.
Born in 1970 in Ganie Hamam area in Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla, Showkat alias Showkat Mochi, son of Ghulam Nabi Sheikh, is presently based in Pakistan. Showkat is also accused of his involvement in “coordinating infiltration and recruitment of terrorists and execution of terror attacks owing to his deep network of associates in North Kashmir”.
In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 35 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification issued on Tuesday said, the Central government declared Showkat Ahmed Sheik as a terrorist.
“The Central Government believes that Showkat Ahmad Sheikh alias Showkat Mochi is involved in terrorism and he is to be notified as a terrorist under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.”
Kandoo alias Sajad alias Fayaz Sopore, a resident of Kraltang, Sopore, Jammu and Kashmir, is presently based in Pakistan. Kandoo is also accused of his involvement in “managing finances for the terrorists, supply of arms and ammunition to terrorists and narcotics smuggling”.
He is also charged with “coordinating attacks on security forces and civilians, in which many security forces personnel and civilians were killed” in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The Central government believes that Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandoo is involved in terrorism and he is to be notified as terrorist under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967,” reads the notification.
One arrested for killing J&K DG Prisons Lohia
The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday apprehended Yasir Ahmed, the prime accused in the murder of the Director General of Prisons, H.K. Lohia who was found dead under suspicious circumstances in a house in the Udaywala area of Jammu.
“In a major manhunt launched by Jammu and Kashmir police throughout the night, the accused involved in the murder case of DG Prison, Hemant Lohia has been apprehended,” Mukesh Singh, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), J-K said.
DG Prison Lohia was found dead under suspicious circumstances in a house in the Udaywala area of Jammu on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday. Initial examination revealed this as a suspected murder case, according to the police. The body of Hemant Lohia, DG Prisons Jammu and Kashmir, was found under suspicious circumstances. First Examination of the scene of crime reveals this as a suspected murder case, said J-K police.
A search has been initiated for the absconding domestic help of the officer.
Forensic and crime teams are on the spot and a probe is underway.
Earlier, the ADGP had informed that the accused, who worked as domestic help with Lohia was on the run and they have recovered the murder weapon. Besides, “a diary of the accused has also been found, which reflects his depressed mental state,” he added.
Singh had also said that so far no terror act is apparent but a thorough probe into the matter is on to rule out any possibility.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbag Singh informed that Lohia had been staying at his friend’s place for the past few days. “He (H.K. Lohia) had been staying at his friend’s house for the past few days. After having dinner, he went back to his room. The domestic helper was inside his room on the pretext of helping him with some ailment,” Singh said.
“The helper then latched the door from inside and attacked him several times with a sharp weapon, and also tried to suffocate him. The accused as per history is an aggressive, unstable person. His pictures have been issued in the media and hunt for him is on,” the DGP added. The J-K administration has also warned against uncorroborated stories allegedly spread regarding the murder of Lohia.
8-month-old, parents among 4 Indian-origin abducted in U.S.
An 8-month-old infant, among 4 Indians was kidnapped on Monday (local time) in California.
A case of abduction of 4 Indians has been reported in the United States. The victims include an 8-month-old infant and they were abducted from Merced County in California on Monday (local time), authorities said.
The Merced County Sheriff’s Office in a statement identified the kidnapped persons as 36-year-old Jasdeep Singh, 27-year-old Jasleen Kaur, their eight-month-old child Aroohi Dheri, and 39-year-old Amandeep Singh, reported ABC 10.
The police have identified the suspect as armed and dangerous. Police said that the four were taken against their will from a business in the 800 block of South Highway 59, reported ABC 30. The site of the alleged abduction is a roadway lined with retailers and restaurants.
However, not much detail about the incident has been released as the investigation is in its early stages. NBC News reported that officials have not named a suspect or a possible motive.
But the sheriff’s office released a photo of the suspect. “He is described as a light-complected male with a shaved head. He was last seen wearing a hoodie. “We consider the suspect to be armed and dangerous,” a Facebook post by the Sheriff’s Office stated, as the authorities advised the general public not to approach the man and to call 911 if they are seen.
In 2019, another kidnapping incident was reported where an Indian-origin techie, Tushar Atre was found dead in his girlfriend’s car hours after the owner of a digital marketing company in the US was allegedly kidnapped from his posh California home.
Additionally, the investigating authorities have not been able to identify a possible motive behind the abduction but released a photograph of the suspect on the Twitter handle of Merced County Sheriff’s Office.
“He is described as a light-complexed male with a shaved head. He was last seen wearing a hoodie. We consider the suspect to be armed and dangerous,” a Facebook post by the Sheriff’s Office stated as the authorities advised the general public not to approach the man.
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