The details follow the pattern — condemn, defame, amplify it all, on the flimsiest of threads, and cloak it all under the shroud of patriotism.
The sting, and the irony, is at the very end of this news report:
Signed by Naseeruddin Shah, Sharmila Tagore and Shubha Mudgal amongst others, the petition calls upon the Press Council of India and the Broadcast Association “to take note of this criminality and initiate necessary action against the channel”.
What can you do but laugh?
The PCI hasn’t let out a yip over the systematic persecution of journalists (and others) by the government of Chattisgarh (Supriya Sharma’s superb story here). It has proved MIA when it was proved, repeatedly, that some channels aired deliberately faked videos. And that is just the two most recent examples of the PCI — a body ostensibly founded to protect press freedom and to enforce journalistic standards — falling down on both those counts. And yet, with incredible naivete, sections of the public continue to appeal to that body for redress?
That Zee News did it again is, meanwhile, no surprise. In a recent interview to Outlook magazine, Choudhary made no bones about his approach to “news”:
What’s the difference between campaign and a media trial?
It has become necessary for media houses to take a stand on certain issues. It has to be a nationalistic approach. That benefits the people of India. What do you call neutral and secular? No one is neutral anymore. I will pitch for a nationalistic reporting, so you can make some contribution to society. I call it proactive journalism. We put across a point and ask society to act on it. It’s like instant journalism- same day you raise an issue, by evening you reach a conclusion.
That’s it, then. The job of the media is to take a stand — nowhere in this definition does Choudhary make even a token reference to facts, to reporting. Take a stand, raise hell, rinse and repeat with another “issue” next day. So why are we surprised that a respected poet became the latest strawman for this dangerous Don Quixote to tilt at earlier this week?
Choudhary’s antecedents are no secret — he is currently on bail (which seems to extend indefinitely) on charges of extortion and blackmail. JNU Professor Nivedita Menon recently furnished an extensive aide memoire about the editor’s history (Scroll down to part two), assuming anyone needed reminding.
The real irony here? This gent, who uses his bully pulpit to call down the public’s wrath on those he deems “anti-national” — on flimsy, or even manufactured, evidence — has been provided, by this government, with X Category security. Delhi police and paramilitary provide him 24/7 security — on the basis of one phone call.
Consider the dates. In June 2015, a court — Patiala Court, in fact — questions the granting of bail to Choudhary and his cohorts in the Jindal case. In September, the government provides him with security cover.
Meanwhile, the victims of Choudhary’s brand of “instant journalism” continue to be beaten up (sometimes, with their court-mandated security standing by and watching), vilified, their families targeted, their names tarnished with no due process whatsoever.
Fair enough, I guess. Our nation has apparently grown so weak that the very few of its committed defenders need to be protected, at taxpayer expense.
PS: Sahir Raza, son of the “anti-national” poet Gauhar Raza, says his father needs no defence — the poem speaks for itself.
And here, a Gauhar Raza interview where he responds to the “charges” against him.