Arnab’s alternate universe

In the wake of the outing of the Kanhaiya Kumar video as fake, various journalists have resorted to revisionism — the standard tactic being deleting the tweet(s) in which they propagated the lie.

Times Now’s Arnab Goswami went one better — he claimed he had not only aired the video, he had actually stopped BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra from airing it. And from that premise, Goswami asked that The Wire apologise for the piece by its editor Siddharth Varadarajan, where he criticises TimesNow among other channels for giving the fake video air time.

What follows, is a classic take-down. The Wire plugs in this video of Arnab’s show:

Quote, from The Wire’s update of its previous piece:

Times Now’s anchor, Arnab Goswami used the convenient device of asking BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra to show it on air.

 Goswami can clearly be heard repeatedly asking Patra (from 22:50′ onwards) to “show the video, show the video.” When Patra shows it, he orders the Times Now camera to zoom in on it. “Show the video close by”, says Goswami. After the forgery is aired, Goswami declares triumphantly, “I can clearly him say, if that is indeed him in the video, I can clearly hear him say ‘leke rahenge aazadi’.” He then turns to a guest, Anand Kumar from JNU, and says, “If this video is correct, what are you going to say now?”.
Indeed. What do you have to say now, Mr Goswami?
The nation wants to know.

Other tweets in the series say it Varadarajan’s report was “completely and factually incorrect”.

Goswami apparently called Varadarajan to clarify.

Note: In an earlier note, The Wire accepted in good faith Arnab Goswami’s claim, made in a telephone call to Siddharth Varadarajan, that the channel had stopped Sambit Patra from showing the clip.

So now what? Now that it turns out that Arnab did get that clip aired (and there is the little matter of claiming he didn’t while his media group demands an apology), will the media house take action against its anchor?

Words, words, no matter from the heart…

The second most senior member of the government said this, in context of the assault, by BJP-affiliated lawyers goons, of journalists covering the Patiala House court complex.

Meanwhile, in another land not so far away — another land also ruled by the BJP — this happens:

On Thursday, after living in Jagdalpur for nearly half a decade, five weeks of relentless police intimidation drove Subramaniam and her family out of town.

Malini Subramaniam’s crime? Writing consistently, with deep reporting and exemplary perseverance, of the tribulations of Chattisgarh’s disenfranchised.

Supriya Sharma’s story of the travails faced by a reporter doing her job is chilling. Not merely for the narrative of the serial persecution of Malini Subramaniam, but for the larger implications.

The incidents are too many and too numerous to ignore — incidents of serial persecution of any who dare to dissent, or even to report. And this persecution is being carried out in tandem by the government, its tame police force, and by goons hiding behind the fig leaf of flag and country.

Sabka saath, sabka vikas — a slogan Narendra Modi had occasion to invoke several times this week, even as his stormtroopers were assaulting students in Delhi, and a government led by his party was hounding journalists in Chattisgarh.

That is all we are left with — empty slogans, and a vision of achche din that is already in tatters.

And speaking of slogans, remember the other one? Na khaoonga, na kaane doonga? Here you go:

Forest rights of  tribals over their traditional lands in Ghatbarra village of Surguja district have been summarily taken away by the Chattisgarh government to facilitate coal mining of Prasa East and Kete Besan coal block. The block has been allocated to Rajasthan Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RVUNL) and Adani Minerals Private Limited is the mine developer cum operator (MDO). The latter is a 100% subsidiary of Adani Enterprises Limited and RVUNL is Rajasthan government’s company.

Those were the achche din…

Two Dalit men were arrested on Thursday for asking permission to wave black flags during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Banaras Hindu University on 22 February, reports The Indian Express.

The two men have been charged with breaching the peace. The whatthefuckery is astounding — two men, meeting a magistrate to ask permission to protest, which is what the law requires them to do, breached the peace?

I was one of those who in August 2011 watched, entranced, as Arun Jaitley lit up the Rajya Sabha with a take-no-prisoners speech denouncing the arrogance of the Manmohan Singh government, and took a stand for the right of every citizen to protest, to dissent.

Watch, from 7.50 on — and follow along with the text, below:

You have unleashed a new political idiom against the critics of this government. On one hand you send ministers to receive Baba Ramdev, you formed a drafting committee with Anna Hazare and his team, and then in the middle of the night you unleash them with lathis. You follow the police power approach to solve a political problem.

What is the kind of idiom that we are seeing in the last few days? Political spokesmen are being used literally as hitmen. That is the new role they have put on. You pick up those crusading for probity in public life and unleash a series of political abuses on them. You start making allegations against them. Is that the level to which you have brought the level of political debate in this country? And then you stand up and cry before five editors with a sense of helplessness and say, these are compulsions of political alliances and coalitions, that I am unable to take action. Is that the answer you have to political corruption?

Smugness, Mr Prime Minister, which has become a character of this government, arrogance of power which has become a character of this government, is not the methodology by which corruption can be fought.

Power is not immortal. The more arrogant you are, the earlier it disappears. Please bear that in mind. And therefore, when the question which is to be posed today, the first question before you that the whole country is asking, and we in the opposition today ask you is, does the government have the political will to fight corruption? If you decide that the answer is in the affirmative, it is only then that you can get the confidence of the nation back.

The second question, and that is the question the entire opposition puts to you, the civil society is putting to you – they are not saying they will substitute this parliament and draft the laws. But then, all that they are saying and we are saying is, dissent… (interruptions)… all that they are saying is, and all that we are reaffirming is, they have a right to put their point of view across.

Members of civil society, or any citizens’ groups, or any citizen of this country, has the right to campaign for his views, he has the right to crusade for his views. We are entitled to tell him how much we agree with him and how much we cannot accommodate him. That is a part of the democratic discourse. But they have the right to put that viewpoint across, and as a part of that right to put their viewpoint across, they have a right to protest, they have a right to dissent. And it is this right to protest, and this right to dissent, which your government is trying to strangle, and we are all here to oppose that.

The points make themselves, so I’ll leave this here. Isn’t it strange, though, that what we oppose when we are out of power becomes the precise thing we morph into, when power finds us?


It is time, writes Siddharth Varadarajan in The Wire, to stand up and be counted on the side of Kanhaiya Kumar. The payoff:

When Kanhaiya is eventually released from jail and the charges against him are dropped – as they surely must – the Supreme Court must set up a Special Investigation Team to root out the criminals who fabricated this “evidence” and put it into circulation. The politicians and policemen responsible for this false and malicious prosecution must be arraigned and brought to justice. No one, not even Bassi, must be spared, if it is found that they played a role in the fabrication or its dissemination. The lawyers and BJP leaders who attacked students and teachers and journalists and others inside and outside the Patiala House court must be prosecuted. The lawyers should be debarred for life.

There is no criminal law that readily applies to the journalists who engaged in the character-assassination of Kanhaiya Kumar, putting his very life in danger. Some of them have sons and daughters who are Kanhaiya’s age, and yet felt not a twinge of guilt in feeding a young man to rabid dogs. Let our contempt for them be their punishment. They are a disgrace to journalism—and to India.

Read the whole piece — it is worth the time, and your thoughts.

The right to… what?

Wait, what precisely are the lawyers marching for? Their right to intimidate, beat people up, threaten, even commit flagrant contempt of court has not been impeded, as far as anyone can see.

While on which, Caravan meets with Vikram Chauhan. The conversation is enlightening.

The last call Chauhan received before I got out of the car at Karkardooma, was particularly graphic. The person who had called, congratulated Chauhan on what he was doing, encouraged him to continue, and then added what a local person of prominence had asked to him to convey: “Poora samarthan hai unka. Bola hai ki inko karne do saare naatak … Mombattiya jala ke bas apni gaand me daal lenge … Kuch nahi hone denge aapko.”—He [Chauhan] has our whole-hearted endorsement. Let them [the students] carry on their drama…they can light candles in their asses…nothing will happen to you.

The “larger questions”

What are the “larger questions” that remain? If the “evidence” the apologists for the JNU action is fabricated, how do questions “remain”?

Unless you are talking of these questions. Or the question of the part various people and institutions, Dasgupta included, played in the hounding of an innocent man and an entire institution?