On Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 23:25, Bishakha Datta <bishakhada...@gmail.com>wrote:

> On Mon, Feb 6, 2012 at 4:25 PM, Srikanth Ramakrishnan <
> parakara.gh...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> I agree with you completely. While I've never been dragged to a Police
>> station, the Coimbatore Police made me delete ALL my photos on the camera,
>> and the Bangalore Police took away my memory card.
> This is really a shame. Did they specify under what law they were doing
> this?
> Since these situations are cropping up on photo walks, here are some
> ground-level suggestions for individual volunteers or groups embarking on
> these:
> 1)Familiarize yourself with 'photo restrictions' in your city/state: These
> may differ, and none of us know all the restrictions in each state - maybe
> a news photographer or someone could be asked in advance, since we seem to
> have good media contacts in India in general? (Tinu or anyone else: do you
> think there is someone who could help provide this info? We are all
> ignorant here. Individuals would feel more confident if they knew whether
> or not what they are doing is illegal.)
> 2)Stand your ground to the extent possible: Keep asking which law is being
> applied if any police action - charging with a case, arrest, confiscation -
> is brought up. I know this is very very hard to do when faced with police
> personnel, but still. The police are less likely to bully someone who can
> firmly ask questions - and who does not get intimidated by the law.
> 3)Create a chain of 'help': Call another wikipedian for help - if there
> are 2-3 or more wikipedians present, divide up tasks, so that one-two
> people can engage the cops while another makes phone calls. When Pranav
> called me, I in turn called lawyer friends who clarified that P&Co were not
> breaking the law. I then felt more confident to ask them to 'stand their
> ground'.

This is very good advice- and this is precisely what we did at Bombay
House. I engaged the cops while Pranav was on the phone. When Pranav
relayed Bishakha's perspective, that gave us even more confidence to stand
our ground.

A very important thing here is to be firm, but *polite*. Being
confrontational can make things go downhill very fast (I believe they can
arrest you for not cooperating with a police officer). Be as cooperative as
you can (when the police asks you for identification, questions your
background and such), without backing down from your original position.
Steer the conversation towards the issue (and legalities thereof) at hand,
away from your background and motivations. Most important point- Remain
calm and respect the other side- they don't want to have to deal with this
if they can avoid it either. It is surprising how much progress you can
make under such circumstances with a smile on your face. :-)

Finally, concede if you have indeed erred. While photography is rarely
prohibited (except in sensitive government designated areas that are
clearly marked as "Prohibited Area"), the typical offense people are
charged with is trespassing or harassment (thrusting a camera in someone's
face, or not allowing them to walk away). You will find very few legal
restrictions when it comes to photographing things while in a public place
(except when the subject is in an area where they have a reasonable
expectation of privacy- like a public restroom, or using a telephoto lens
from a public space to photograph someone through their window in their
private bedroom). Also remember that (while on public spaces) nobody can
ask you to delete your photographs, or take your camera away. Doing so
would allow you to charge them of coercion and/or theft. A policeman may
seize your camera (if they arrest you, which is unlikely in the first
place), but may not delete your photographs (tampering with evidence). If
you see yourself getting into a confrontation with a private security
guard- as a preemptive measure, call the police first yourself.

Ignore any or all of the above advice if you are being physically harmed.
Focus on personal safety first.
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