The Congress on Saturday accused the Narendra Modi government of attempting to “break the connect” in use of internet messaging services such as WhatsApp and Viber, and alleged that this was being done to “favour a few corporates”.
Congress spokesperson R.P.N. Singh said that applications like WhatsApp and Viber have become a major connecting and communicating medium for millions of people across the world.
“The Modi government is making repeated attempts to break this connect in order to favour a few corporates who will manipulate charges on the basis of the recent DOT (department of telecommunications) report,” he said in a statement.
He alleged that the committee appointed by Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has acceded to the demands of the telecom industry at the cost of the common mobile user.
“In India there are about 10 crore users on WhatAapp and similar services. However, recommendations of the DOT to make these services chargeable will adversely affect all, especially users in the rural areas,” Singh said.
He said a mobile phone user wants free access to popular applications such as WhatsApp and Viber and he also wants that the service provider does not interfere with the free access to websites/content on the internet.
“Unfortunately, both the above aspects have been compromised in the report on net neutrality. This again is typical BJP game hoodwinking and fleecing the common man even as the prime minister and Prasad assured the nation to the contrary,” he said.
The panel headed by technocrat A.K. Bhargava, that was asked to look at the whole gamut of net neutrality, suggested earlier this week that free regime for domestic calls made through internet messenger services such as WhatsApp, Viber and Skype be benchmarked against regular telecom service providers for tariff and regulation.
The panel said that other communication services offered by them dealing with messaging should not be interfered with through regulation.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s adviser V. K. Jain on Thursday told police that he saw AAP MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal “physically assaulting” Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, according to Jain’s statement recorded by the Delhi Police.
The AAP defended by stating that Jain had initially told police that he did not witness any assault and police has threatened Jain to change his statement.
On Tuesday, the Chief Secretary had alleged that he was beaten up by the two AAP MLAs in the presence of Kejriwal at the Chief Minister’s residence on Monday night, where he had been called for an emergency meeting.
Police later arrested Khan and Jarwal and they were sent to judicial custody till Thursday.
According to the Chief Secretary, the Chief Minister’s adviser had called him over the phone and asked him to come to the Chief Minister’s residence for the meeting and Jain was also present there.
On Thursday, the Delhi Police submitted Jain’s statement at a city court, which said that Jain had gone to the washroom during the meeting and as he came out he saw the two AAP MLAs “physically assaulting” the Chief Secretary.
The statement was recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC, which means that it was recorded in front of the police and not a magistrate.
Sources told IANS that Jain later recorded his statement in front of a magistrate under section 164 of the CrPC.
“The statement under section 164 was later recorded with the magistrate in front a camera, without the presence of police. In that statement also he (Jain) has said that he saw the two MLAs physically assaulting the Chief Secretary,” a police officer privy to the case told IANS.
The officer said that the statement under section 164 has also been submitted to the court.
Jain was first questioned on Wednesday morning and then again on Thursday and his statement was recorded on Thursday.
The change in Jain’s statement that the AAP was referring to was from a “question and answer” with Jain recorded by police after questioning him on Wednesday.
According to a copy of Wednesday’s “question and answer” recorded by police, when asked whether Jain saw the Chief Secretary being manhandled, he replied that he had gone to the washroom in between the meeting and he could not say what happened during that time.
“By putting pressure on him (Jain) throughout the day (Thursday) and by threatening him, police has forced him to change his statement,” AAP MP Sanjay Singh told the media here on Thursday.
“How is it that the same Jain who emphatically said yesterday that he witnessed no assault during the entire time that he was present there has now claimed otherwise?” he asked.
Singh said that AAP MLAs were being arrested over an alleged assault of which there was no proof.
“But on the other hand, despite there being video footage of officials assaulting Delhi Cabinet Minister Imran Hussain, there is no action taken against the guilty by the Delhi Police,” the AAP MP said.
The court on Thursday sent the two AAP MLAs, arrested on charges of assaulting the Chief Secretary, to judicial custody for 14 days.
Orders on the bail pleas of the two AAP MLAs and also on their police custody will be pronounced on Friday.
Meanwhile, scores of Delhi government employees across the city observed a five-minute silence outside their respective offices as a protest against the alleged assault on the Chief Secretary.
The IAS Association said that officers would continue the protest every day, till steps are taken to “ensure safety and dignity” of government staff in the city.
The AAP also hit out at Lt Governor Anil Baijal by stating that he was “working as a BJP agent” and demanded action against those involved in “manhandling and beating up” Hussain and his aide at the Delhi Secretariat on Tuesday. (IANS)