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Corruption fighters battle for Facebook page rights

Last updated on: July 17, 2012 10:25 IST

Corruption fighters battle for Facebook page rights

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Sreelatha Menon

Arvind Kejriwal and two of his supporters are scheduled to go on an indefinite fast from July 25.

But this round of fasting will not only not include Anna Hazare, it would also be without the platform of India Against Corruption's Facebook page.

The group has lost the page after its creator, journalist Shivendra Singh Chauhan, parted ways with it.

Chauhan has said the page, one of the most popular Facebook pages in August last year when the Anna Hazare movement was at its peak, would remain his property.

The page had 250,000-450,000 followers by August 2011 and 600,000 by July this year.

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Image: India Against Corruption's Facebook page


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Corruption fighters battle for Facebook page rights

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Kejriwal has created a substitute page on Facebook called Final War Against Corruption, focusing on the July 25 fast being staged by him to demand an inquiry into corruption charges against 15 Cabinet ministers.

The loss of the page depicts the isolation faced by Kejriwal a year after the movement he started against corruption, with people deserting him one after another and even Hazare staying in the background, almost silent.

Chauhan recalls how the page was started in October 2010 as part of his own campaign against corruption during the Commonwealth Games.

That brought him in touch with many activists, including Arvind Kejriwal, who later said a similar campaign should be started for the Lok Pal Bill.

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Image: Kejriwal's Final War Against Corruption page


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"Kejriwal does not own the page. I was neither paid nor hired by anyone to make the page. It is a public movement and no individual can own a public movement," he says.

Chauhan has seen the movement grow, soar to great heights, and then gradually dissipate into what he says is just centred around Kejriwal and two or three of his cronies. The views of others don't count, he says.

Chauhan even wrote an angry letter to Kejriwal recently, questioning the "undemocratic" functioning of the group.

He made it clear to the group later that he would take the page with him.

"Kejriwal threatened to go to court and I said I was fully prepared," he says. "Why should I give them the page? If there is a feast and I contribute vegetables for it, I can always stop the supplies if I find undesirable people are going to attend the feast..." he says, adding he would have given up the page willingly if the group showed desire to change.

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Corruption fighters battle for Facebook page rights

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Chauhan says he will keep the page alive with content on public movements against corruption, including the struggle of Arvind Kejriwal's group.

"I have nothing against them, but where is the guarantee that only they would be able to come up with a Lok Pal Bill or other anti-corruption solutions?" he asks.

The Facebook page of India Against Corruption recently got the highest number of 'shares' at 12,000, not for news on Anna Hazare but on the molestation incident in Guwahati.

Chauhan feels the charges of corruption or money-laundering against Kejriwal's team are false but the problem is the narrowness of it.

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He complains that Kejriwal never replied to his letter sent in May. Instead, he chose to start a new Facebook page.

"It is the same experience one has when one questions the government. We get no replies," he says.

Bibhav Kumar, an associate of Kejriwal, said the loss of the page was unfortunate.

"But we have created a new page and are giving the link to that page in all our posters and media statements."

He ruled out legal action.

"It belonged to someone else. We can't demand it," he said.

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