The Trinamool Congress has decided to set up a cyber cell comprising 40,000 members to counter the BJP on social media.Party sources said the decision was taken during the TMC’s Social Media Conclave in Kolkata on Wednesday.A senior Trinamool leader involved with the party’s social media operations revealed that during the conclave the TMC leadership emphasised “identifying and exposing fake news and videos” spread through social media. The conclave was attended by 248 members of the newly-formed cyber cell’s core committee. The cyber cell is under direct supervision of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and party MP Abhishek Banerjee.Professional help“During the conclave, IT professionals explained to our workers selected for social media operations how fake news and videos are spread by the BJP to polarise people. The experts also spoke about the techniques of identifying and exposing fake news and videos,” the TMC leader told The Hindu.He said the use of software to distort images and the process of identifying such “fake photographs” were also explained to the workers.The TMC sources revealed that one of the key objectives of the cyber cell will be to monitor the “comments of BJP leaders and expose them if they resort to falsehood”.Messaging platformsApart from social networking sites, the TMC’s cyber cell is also planning to take on the BJP’s IT cell on various instant messaging platforms. “Our aim is to set up 10,000 WhatsApp groups to promote the developmental activities of Mamata Banerjee and reach out to at least 2.5 crore people through these groups,” the TMC leader said.“We want to reach out digitally to people even in the far-flung corners of the State and make them aware of the TMC government’s commitment to development,” Diptangshu Chowdhury, joint convener of TMC’s cyber cell, said. He had joined the party after quitting the BJP in December last year. The impact of “fake news, trolling and viral social media posts” were also discussed during the conclave, the TMC leader said.The party sources revealed that during the conclave Trinamool MP and spokesperson Derek O’Brien cited the example of Ms. Banerjee’s prompt reaction against demonetisation on a microblogging site. “The decision of demonetisation was announced at around 8.25 p.m. and Mamata Banerjee tweeted on demonetisation at 9.42 p.m. while other political parties were busy holding meetings. If we have to be Didi’s soldiers, then we have to be alert,” Mr. O’Brien was quoted by the TMC leader.Another party leader, however, indicated that the party “cannot match the BJP in resources” in any area, including the setting up of a cyber cell.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed a petition of a youth from Haryana who challenged the cancellation of his “atheist” certificate by the State government after it had been issued to him by a local official earlier. Justice Tejinder Singh Dhindsa, while dismissing the petition, observed that if the petitioner has chosen a path of an atheist and doesn’t believe in any caste or class, there would be no requirement in law for him to be issued a certificate to such effect.The court held that undoubtedly, the freedom of conscience under Article 25 of the Constitution encompasses in itself a freedom to an individual to take a view that he does not belong to any religion.Individual rights“The freedom conferred by Article 25 of the Constitution would also include a right of an individual to claim that he is an ‘atheist’. Just as a freedom of conscience confers a fundamental right to a citizen to entertain a particular religious belief, it equally confers a right on any other individual-citizen to express an opinion that he does not belong to any religion,” said the court.The petitioner, Ravi Kumar Atheist, had approached the court challenging the cancellation of the “atheist” certificate which was issued to him by the Naib Tehsildar, Tohana of district Fatehabad in Haryana. The certificate issued on April 29, 2019 certified that the petitioner was an atheist and does not belong to any caste, religion and does not believe in God. However, on May 4, 2019 the certificate was cancelled.The court said that even if any such certificate had been issued by the Naib Tehsildar concerned and the same was subsequently cancelled, it would be of no consequence.
Spanish regional cable operator Euskaltel increased its subscriber base and grew revenue and profit in Q1, with CEO Francisco Arteche saying that the company’s bundling strategy was paying dividends.Francisco ArtecheEuskaltel’s revenue rose 26.6% to €176.6 million for the quarter, while EBITDA grew by 23.8% to €84.2 million. Operating cash flow was up 12.3% to €50.3 million, and Euskaltel posted a net profit of €14.6 million, up 10.9%.The company, which combines Basque Country operator Euskaltel, Asturias-based Telecable and Galician operator R, added 25,000 new contract sales in Q1, taking its revenue-generating untie base to 2.3 million.Euskaltel said that triple- and quad-play customers now account for 68.6% of the overall base, with an average of 3.6 products per customer.Euskaltel added 6,000 pay TV customers in the qurter, taking its base to 400,000, which was attributed to the success of its new 4K Android-based set0top box and the addition of a Netflix button to its remote control.The company added 3,000 broadband subscribers, taking its base to 492,000, and 18,000 mobile lines, taking its overall base of mobile lines to 933,000.Euskaltel said that its growth had been boosted by its expansion into the Navarre region, where it is selling its products over Orange’s network, although it did not break out numbers.“We have honoured our market announcement: a net rise in new customers and growth in revenue, EBITDA and profits,” said Arteche.Euskaltel’s management came under criticism in March from shareholder Zegona Communications, the former majority owner of Telecable. Zegona said that it was “disappointed” Euskaltel’s performance, which it claimed had resulted in a €41.5 million decline in the value of its investment.