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Times publisher arrested, released

Cover story and pictures on sexual trends in Mumbai Mirror Buzz spell trouble

BY A CORRESPONDENT
17th November 2005

If there is one message out of the recent arrest and release of Times of India Mumbai publisher Sam Dastoor, it is this: tread with care when stalking the badlands of sex and the city.

Sam Dastoor, publisher of the Times of India group of publications was arrested this week over the publication of a controversial cover story in Buzz, the glossy magazine which goes free with Mumbai Mirror every week. The Buzz cover pictured a couple in kissing, with the headline MERCURY RISING. The caption read: How hot is Mumbai? Our exclusive survey tells you just that."



The Mumbai Mirror Buzz survey conducted by IMRB International, as Buzz said, "delved into the minds and bedrooms of Mumbai's young adult minds."

The controversial Buzz was circulated with Mumbai Mirror (which is circulated with Times of India) on November 12 in Mumbai. Following its publication, a group of non-governmental organisations went to the police. The police arrested Dastoor on Tuesday, November 15, and later released him on bail.

The Times of India publisher was booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Young Persons (Harmful Publications Act). According to relevant Indian statutes, every publication is supposed to duly mention the name of its printer, publisher and place of printing. Mirror Buzz did not carry these details, and hence, charges were filed under Press and registration of Books Act too. The charges included sale of obscene material and sale of obscene objects to young persons, a newspaper report said.


The Mirror Buzz cover story, spread across seven pages, featured ten topics of sex and surveys based on them. The magazine also featured nine pictures of nude and semi-nude couples in various stages of undress and making out.

The Mirror Buzz survey delved on ten sections including sexual habits, commercial sex, love and lifestyle, attraction and arousal, pre-marital sex, sexual fantasies, sexual harassment, foreplay and stimulants and homosexuality.

According to the survey, one in two students has had sex, and premarital sex starts for 13% of students from the age of 15. The survey went on to find out details on favourite sex positions, infidelity and masturbation. According to the survey, one in four men has visited commercial sex workers, even as many of them found the practice to be a cause for HIV.

The survey goes on to say that almost one in four married women have swapped partners, while for men the figure is 20%. Nine out of ten bachelors in this city have had pre-marital sex, asserts the survey, and winds up with the observation that the city is not too friendly to ideas of homosexuality.

Mumbai Mirror editor Meenal Baghel told Mumbai Newsline (the city supplement of Indian Express) that the pictures published were quite tasteful. She also said that such surveys were not conducted for the first time in India, and were a bona fide journalistic activity the world over. "I am surprised with this whole affair," she was quoted as saying in Mumbai Newsline.

However, one man's tastefulness may be another's obscenity. Just the same way one man's terrorism could be another's freedom struggle.

 BY A CORRESPONDENT

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