Srinagar: Social life of Asim Khan (name changed), an internet game buff, came to a stand-still when his morphed image made rounds on Facebook and Whatsapp.
“I was playing an online game with my classmate, and ended up scoring more than him. It left him furious and we quarrelled,” said the class-10 student.
Next day, his phone was flooded with sarcastic comments, his morphed image and derogatory remarks on his sexuality shocking him.
“It was uploaded on to Facebook and widely shared. A week later, we came to know that it was his classmate’s doing,” his mother said.
The teenager went into a month-long depression, needing counselling to overcome the trauma.
This is no isolated case; teenagers in Kashmir have in general become vulnerable to the negative influence of internet, particularly social media.
“They get easily influenced by online games and applications, because of their impressionable age,” said Psychologist Irfan Fayaz.
“The thrill of winning such games can cause a release of chemicals in their brains giving them a momentary rush of joy.”
Dr Aftab, Sociology Lecturer at Shopian Degree College, said social media was evolving as the main space for kids’ or teens’ social interaction.
“The platforms provide the same social gratification as any real-life interaction. As a result, they get trapped in the virtual identity,” he said.
Easy access to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram exposes the teens to cyber bullying.
However, teenagers alone aren’t the victims. Adults, too, are at the receiving end.
Humaira Mir (name changed), a 25-year-old teacher working in a prominent school of the Valley, had her meme created by her students and circulated on Facebook and Instagram.
“My low pitch voice and teaching skills were criticised through this meme,” she said.
Her fellow teachers said quick access to the internet has made it easy for the students “to vilify and pass hate remarks” on their teachers.
“The students unknowingly click pictures of teachers, and make fun behind their backs in an apparent breach of privacy,” a teacher said, adding that the students are becoming too engrossed in the virtual world to attend their lectures.
“I often find them discussing their display pictures on FB and the kind of filters they usually use on their Instagram posts,” said one of her colleagues, with a sigh.
The use of social media among elderly and uneducated people in the Valley has also risen in the recent past.
Apps accessible on the user-friendly smartphones has turned them into compulsive checkers, while most of them kill time by, for instance, scrolling through the videos.
A middle-aged shopkeeper at Goni Khan here, hardly familiar with Android phones, uses social media only to watch short videos to kill boredom.
Saira (name changed), a retired doctor, was made to deactivate FB account by her counsellor after she began to hallucinate about it.
With both her children settled abroad, she would be active on Facebook from morning till evening.
“Despite a severe eye strain, she would use Facebook throughout day and night. She was convinced that Facebook had held her ransom. If she logged out, she and her family would be murdered,” said her husband. “Isolation can drive increased social media usage.”
Militants are also making use of social media to reach out to the people.
Amir (name changed), in his early twenties, uses Youtube largely to watch videos of militants for “thrill”.
“Seeing their long hairdo and rifle-clad bodies leaves me fascinated. My mother sometimes fears that such videos might land me in trouble,” he said with a smile.
For his friends, however, social media is all about befriending new people and earning more followers.
Recently, a teen from Bhejbehara was seen performing a dangerous stunt on a railway track.
The viral video had garnered thousands of views on social media.
The youth was arrested by the police and subsequently released after counselling.
The long friend-list on social media fools the youngsters into believing that they have got a special quality that others lack. “In reality, socializing is far more complicated, as it requires a specific set of communication skills,” said the Psychologist.
As per Dr Aftab, large number of likes, comments, and shares on networking sites give the young people “a false sense of accomplishment”.
“Suddenly, one begins to feel important. It may lead to narcissism and further hamper their personality development.”
Many cases of cheating through social media have also come to the fore, mostly by scamsters who operate through fake accounts.
Official figures reveal that in 2017, 51 cases of cyber-related crimes were witnessed in the state. Forty-eight of them are under investigation.
“The more features and social media sites provide us, the more exposed we become to online crimes and scams. Usually, young people are the target because it is easy to scare them,” said Dr Aftab.
CJI’s office comes under RTI, rules SC
New Delhi, Nov 13: The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the office of the Chief Justice of India was a public authority and fell within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi upheld the 2010 Delhi High Court verdict and dismissed three appeals filed by Secretary General of the Supreme Court and the Central Public Information officer of the apex court.
Cautioning that RTI could be used as a tool of surveillance, the top court in its judgment, held that judicial independence had to be kept in mind while dealing with transparency.
The bench, also comprising Justices N V Ramana, D Y Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, said only the names of judges recommended by the Collegium for appointment could be disclosed, not the reasons.
While the CJI and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna penned one judgment, Justices Ramana and Chandrachud wrote separate verdicts.
It said that the Right to Privacy was an important aspect and it had to be balanced with transparency while deciding to give out information from the office of the Chief Justice. Justice Chandrachud said the judiciary could not function in total insulation as judges enjoy constitutional posts and discharge public duty.
Justice Sanjiv Khanna said independence of the judiciary and transparency went hand in hand.
Justice Ramana, who concurred with Justice Khanna, said there should be a balancing formula for Right to Privacy and right to transparency and independence of judiciary should be protected from breach.
The High Court on January 10, 2010 had held that the CJI office came within the ambit of the RTI law, saying judicial independence was not a judge’s privilege, but a responsibility cast upon him.
The 88-page judgment was seen as a personal setback to the then CJI, K G Balakrishnan, who had been opposed to disclosure of information relating to judges under the RTI Act.
The high court verdict was delivered by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah (since retired) and Justices Vikramjit Sen and S Muralidhar. The bench had dismissed a plea of the Supreme Court that contended bringing the CJI’s office within the RTI Act would ‘hamper’ judicial independence.
Justice Sen has retired from the apex court, while Justice Murlidhar is a sitting judge of the High Court.
The move to bring the office of the CJI under the transparency law was initiated by RTI activist S C Agrawal. His lawyer Prashant Bhushan had submitted in the top court that though the apex court should not have been judging its own cause, it was hearing the appeals due to the “doctrine of necessity”.
The lawyer had described the reluctance of the judiciary in parting information under the Right To Information Act as ‘unfortunate’ and ‘disturbing’, asking: “Do judges inhabit a different universe?”
He had submitted the apex court had always stood for transparency in functioning of other organs of State, but it developed cold feet when its own issues required attention. Referring to the RTI provisions, Bhushan had said they also deal with exemptions and information that cannot be given to applicants, but the public interest should always ‘outweigh’ personal interests if the person concerned is holding or about to hold a public office. Dealing with ‘judicial independence’, he said the National Judicial Accountability Commission Act was struck down for protecting the judiciary against interference from the executive, but this did not mean that judiciary is free from ‘public scrutiny’.
Transparency activists on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision, saying the apex court had reiterated the established position in law in the matter.
“I welcome the decision of the constitution bench to reiterate the established position in law that the CJI is a public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act,” said Venkatesh Nayak, head of access to information programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an NGO.
About the Supreme Court’s remark that RTI could not be used as a tool of surveillance, Nayak termed it as an “extremely unfortunate” observation. “Surveillance has unfortunately been equated with transparency that is required under a law duly passed by Parliament,” he told PTI.
Nayak said surveillance was what the government often does under executive instructions and that was not the purpose of the RTI Act. “People whose cases relating to their life, liberty, property and rights, are decided by the high courts and the Supreme Court. People have the right to know not only the criteria but all material that formed the basis of making the decision regarding appointments of judges in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act,” he said.
Nayak said where exemptions were available under the RTI Act, they would be legitimately invoked by public authorities and all other information should be in the public domain. He said the appointment of judges, who were public functionary, was a public act.
“People have the right to know everything that is done in a public way by a government, in a democratic country, which must be accountable and responsible,” Nayak said. Former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi also hailed the top court’s decision. “I had expected the same decision to come as logically there was nothing else. It is unfortunate that this has taken 10 years. The CIC has upheld this. The Delhi HC had also upheld this. Now, the SC has upheld this. All public servants that are paid by the government are a public service, no matter what the position is. You need to be accountable for your work. I congratulate the Chief Justice and the court for having given such a decision,” he said.
RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal lauded the top court’s verdict. “I welcome the Supreme Court’s verdict. It is a victory of the RTI Act,” he said.
Another activist Ajay Dubey said the apex court’s decision was ‘historic’. “It is a historic decision and I welcome it. All decisions made by a public authority must be in public domain and under the RTI Act,” he said.
Dubey, however, expressed shock over the top court’s remark that the RTI Act cannot be used as a tool of surveillance.
Shopkeeper shot dead in Tral
Srinagar, Nov 13: Unidentified gunmen shot dead a shopkeeper at Tral in South Kashmir’s Puwlama district on Wednesday, police said.
The slain was in his shop near Old Bus Stand, Tral, 36 kms from here, when pistol borne masked men shot at him from point-blank range at around 3 p.m.
Zarger was immediately shifted to a nearby hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead.
A police official while confirming the killing said the slain hailed from Tral town.
Reports said the killing created panic in the town.
In recent weeks, militants have started targeting civilians and hurling grenades at crowded places to impose shutdown in the Valley.
Last Monday one civilian died while over 40 were injured when militants threw a grenade in a crowded market near city center Lal Chowk in Srinagar.
Prior to that, non-local laborers, truck drivers and fruit traders were targeted by the militants in south Kashmir.
On August 30, unidentified gunmen shot dead a 65-year-old shopkeeper at Parimpora area of Srinagar. On September 30, unidentified gunmen shot at apple grower at Sopore leaving the grower and four others including a four-year-old girl injured.
The Valley witnessed spontaneous shutdown after the Center abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two union territories on August 5.
However, in recent weeks the impact of the shutdown is waning as more and more people are resuming their normal activities across Kashmir.
Yet another accident: Four killed, 5 injured in Kishtwar mishap
Jammu, Nov 13: Four people were killed and five others injured when a vehicle skidded off the road and rolled down into a deep gorge in Kishtwar district on Wednesday, officials said.
The vehicle, carrying pilgrims from Palmar to the Sarthal temple, fell into the gorge after the driver lost control over it, they said.
Police and locals rushed to the spot and shifted the injured to a district hospital in Kishtwar, where doctors declared four of them brought dead, the officials said.
Three critically injured people were shifted to the Government Medical College here through a chopper for specialised treatment.
District administration, Kishtwar, provided immediate relief of Rs 10,000 each to the family members of the deceased and 5,000 each to the injured.
This is the second such incident in 24 hours as 16 people, including five women and three children, were killed on Tuesday when a passenger vehicle skidded off the road and fell into a deep gorge in Doda district.