If you are an Indian Express reader you have just been told: you are the dumbest, stupidest, bumpkin, buffoon, idiot, thick-headed, retarded, imbecile reader on this earth.
It’s your choice to live with this tag, readers.
Or why would their lead story of today (February 28, 2016) “VIDEO IS OUT: Kanhaiya assaulted, breaks down, police duck for cover” has no relation at all with the real report, smug as they are with the pig that they believe you are, readers?
Now what this headline tells you: It is that there is video which shows Kanhaiya assaulted, breaks down, police duck for cover, isn’t it?
And what does the actual report tells you?: The report tells you that this video is a deposition of Kanhaiya before the Supreme Court panel.
Spotted the difference? (don’t tell me you are really what Express thinks you are).
The Headline tells you there is a video of “Kanhaiya assaulted.’
The report tells you the video is of “Kanhaiya’s disposition” and not of assault.
In other words, Express believes that you stupid readers wouldn’t go beyond their headline (they actually know their worth, folks). Even if it is the lead story!
Now the next question which crossed my mind was how did they get hold of the video? A smart piece of journalism? That made me look for the SC panelists. One was Kapil Sibal (a multiple minister in the previous Congress government); another lawyer Vrinda Grover who is a board member of GreenPeace whose license to collect foreign funds has been cancelled by the Modi government. Actually Sibal has also been in the programme board of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has been hauled over to Supreme Court by a writ petition.
I might be suggesting a NGOs+Congress+Marxists+Media collusion here but so dumb are you readers that I am confident I could get away with it without you suspecting anything.
There are usual suspects littered in this edition of Indian Express: Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Admiral Ramdass, Sharad Pawar, Chidambaram, Nitish Kumar, our revered academic institutions voices (this time it’s missionary college St. Stephen’s principal), going after government on JNU issue. (Actually you must admire Mulayam, Jayalalitha, Mamata, Lalu, Shiv Sena to hold their tongues so far). Central minister Uma Bharti is actually lucky to get two paras in support of Modi, buried many pages deep inside the newspaper.
It’s a rogues’ gallery with Express passing the board-room bulletin as news for us asinine readers.
And don’t you believe anyone loves cricket in this country. On a Sunday edition, there is no front page mention of India beating Pakistan on a cricket field. Never mind this was India’s only seventh T20 match against arch rivals this millennium and that Virat Kohli played a knock which Sachin Tendulkar would’ve been proud to own up. (May be, showing Pakistan in a losing, poor light would’nt suit the agenda).
Fortunately, inside there is a full page interview of about-to-retire Delhi police commissioner, BS Bassi. He has replied on relevant issues but newspaper won’t put a word of it on the front page.
Bassi puts it as it is: without any spin, full of logic and reason. All those reporters and editors who have been baying for his blood, beat a hasty retreat. All that posturing went out of the first window. So here’s what Bassi said on key issues (it’s an abridged version of his quotes):
On The Actual Sedition Case: It’s an open-and-shut case (wow). Under section 124A of the IPC it’s a grave offence. It’s been declared valid by the Constitution. (For police) It’s an extremely easy case.
The law says: “bringing in hatred or contempt or exciting disaffection towards state by words or signs or visible representations.”
I am going to crack this case because I know these are the guys who have done it.
Please read the Kedar Nath judgment of 1962.
Country has to deal with issues in Northeast, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and J and K. We have to have a law to deal with anti-national activities.
Debate happens within constitutional norms. But if it’s an anti-national activity, then it doesn’t remain a debate. Society survives because we respect our Constitution. If all of us start disrespecting our Constitution, the country will be destroyed.
Nobody is letting police do the job. Society as a whole should’ve cooperated with us.
On Kanhaiya, Journalists Beaten Inside Court:
Patiala House is a confined place. Use of teargas, lathi etc would have turned Patiala House into another Jallianwalla Bagh. It’s a prudent practice which police followed. My prudent policing practices also tell me I should have some space to chase away trouble- creators…If I have no such place, it will turn into nothing but Jallianwalla Bagh.
No footage is available of Kanhaiya being beaten. Journalists were still able to cover the event.
I would call it a technical riot because a real riot means arson and people’s heads being broken.
On Journalists Being Questioned:
It’s our job to ask involved persons and seek their reactions (as part of investigations). The thing has been made bigger than the actual event.
There, you have it.
The thing has been made bigger than the actual event. A case under trial has been considered bigger than over two dozen lives lost in the Jat stir. The Jat Stir case that has an aide of ex-Haryana Congress Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, in an audio, apparently egging on a Jat community leader to escalate the violence. But that apparently doesn’t deserve any space in our beloved newspaper.
Don’t you think the front page deserved this headline (or even in inside pages):
JNU: It’s an Open-and-Shut Case, says Bassi
So we now know the devil who has been quoting from the scriptures. Who thinks bark is bigger than the bite. Who doesn’t know that it’s truth which can set it free.
So Shakespeare wrote:
The devil can cite scripture for his purpose;
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
In today’s world of deception and lies, truth is a revolutionary act. It’s up to us readers to hold the flag of truth high. And don’t be the fools that our newspapers think we are.
(This piece can also be read in NewsBred)
Indian Express of February 25, 2016 is a collector’s item. It’s imaginative, creative and like all such things it takes great liberty in dispensing with facts.
It’s imaginative for it gives a screaming full-page bottom-spread headline: “Quoting wisdom from 40 BC, misquoting Kashmiri poet (see the image),” even though there was no misquote from the person in question, Mr Venkaiah Naidu, Union Urban Development Minister. (More on it later).
It’s creative for it picks an exhortation for nationalism from ex-serviceman into a misleading headline: “Latest Wisdom: Bring a tank on JNU campus to instil nationalism in students.” (More on it later).
It’s factually wrong for it it splashes a three-decker headline: “Prof. shares piece on Khalid, ABVP burns effigy, blocks class” even as there is no mention in the report how ABVP “blocked” any student or students from attending one or any class (More on it later).
There is also the lead headline: “Smriti shines the light of treason” which could make a professor of English opt for a new paper roll in his toilet. But when agenda is an issue, language is a minor indiscretion.
All these are front-page headlines. None of them is in single column. Indeed, if there is any story other than concerning JNU row on front page, it’s a single column four paragraphs on forthcoming budget. The newspaper didn’t have space for rail budget due next day; the water crisis which has left the Capital parched or even the jat agitation where casualty is 28 by now.
What chance then there is for you to read about the unfortunate plane crash in Nepal which killed all 23 passengers aboard? The newspaper in its wisdom apparently believes that a “babu” unable to sleep at night because of worrying “mahaul”: (“Minister watching, Minority panel official says: Can’t sleep at night, mahaul -climate- worrying”) is worthy of a four-column display. Or that a retired octogenarian Supreme Court judge’s opinion on “sedition” is worth a second lead story.
All this concerned the Page One or Front Page. Let’s now move on to other pages:
Page 2: All stories barring two again concern the issues surrounding the JNU affair.
Page 3: Just one neutral story manages to find space on again a JNU-dominated page.
Page 4: By far the most neutral page in that just about half the page is on JNU affair. Things possibly are looking up.
Page 5: Darkness again. The entire page is devoted to JNU
Page 6: Not a single JNU story. Possibly the agenda is exhausted after all.
Page 7: Not a chance. The Jat agitation is blamed on—you guessed it right—JNU. This story takes up more than half the page.
Page 8: Again a page where you find JNU, along with Rohith’s death, filling up all corners.
Page 9: It’s again JNU and students all over.
Page 10: The entire page is advertisements and it apparently has broken the spell.
You can’t be serious that there is no JNU representation in the hollowed edit-oped spread (Page 14-15).
In case, by now, you are wondering whether I am mistaking any JNU Express newspaper with our “Journalism of Courage,” I can only disappoint you. It is indeed your revered newspaper. I can assure you though that you would only find business, arts and sports in their designated pages. There is no Mahesh Bhatt vowing the make his next movie on JNU affair or Indian cricket refusing to play for they are upset with JNU affair. (Oh my god, I might just have given them an idea!).
There is a saying: If your head is in the sand, your butt is in the air.
But let’s return to the unfinished “more-on-it-later” theme which I have mentioned at the start of the column.
Quoting wisdom from 40 BC, misquoting Kashmiri poet: The story begin with scarcely concealed contempt for Smriti Irani for having invoked a quote from 40 BC (they call it BCE now, you silly, unless you feel all your readers are Christians) to justify something in 2016.
(Ms Irani: you said you didn’t want to quote any Hindu sage lest be mistaken for a communal leaning. But quote you might anyone, you would still be up for ridicule).
But our real thrust is “Misquoting Kashmiri poet.” For the life of me, I couldn’t see how Naidu has misquoted this poet. The news item itself says that Naidu mistook it for a criticism of Modi government.
So the newspaper doesn’t see any difference between “misquote” and “mistook.” Quote comes with quotation marks. Mistook is a matter of interpretation. To replace one with another is mischievous.
Ironically, the newspaper itself misquotes on just the story above this one. It quotes a disgruntled minority commission additional secretary for saying “situation in the country is not allowing him to sleep peacefully,” even though newspaper admits that the official “reportedly” said it. The reporter’s source must be more than impeccable for a description from a third party he has deemed fit to put in quotes.
Latest wisdom: Bring a tank on JNU campus to instill nationalism in students: The story says a delegation of ex-servicemen met the JNU vice-chancellor and suggested ways to have a memorial on martyred soldiers inside the campus. Among the ways to make it happen, “the university is considering a wall of fame, showcasing a military tank or artillery…”
The import of this statement is laudatory. Still the newspaper’s headline makes it sound as if live tanks would roll down inside the JNU campus (a la Tiananmen Square in China in 1989).
The newspaper also buries in the end a reaction to US envoy Richard Verma’s comment on the “freedom of speech”. “(We) Challenge Verma to allow celebration of Osama (bin Laden) in any university in the US,,.”
Prof shares piece on Khalid, ABVP burns effigy, blocks class: The piece begins with the sentence that ABVP disrupted classes at the Lucknow University.
The story doesn’t have any mention of which classes were disrupted. It just mentions that students protested outside the sociology department. So, how and which class was “blocked ?”
It’s such an in-your-face Indian Express edition that the readers must brace themselves for more of it in days, months and years to come. (God helps the rail budge tomorrow). If it is not Dadri killing or “intolerance debate” or Aamir Khan’s concern or JNU, it would be something else it would pick up to raise the hackles on communalism and intolerance under the Modi government.
We would be watching. We would urge the newspaper to be its own conscience and live up to its reputation of “journalism of courage.”