Sunday, April 26, 2009

Times of India's attempt to bash human rights activists

The Saffron blogs are celebrating the Times of India's report on how Teesta Setalvad allegedly tried to spice up Gujarat carnage incidents. Here is the first few lines of the report that was published in TOI.
The Special Investigation Team responsible for the arrests of those accused in Gujarat riots has severely censured NGOs and social activist Teesta Setalvad who campaigned for the riot victims. In a significant development, the SIT led by former CBI director R K Raghavan told the Supreme Court on Monday that the celebrated rights activist cooked up macabre tales of wanton killings.for the riot victims.

After reading the above paragraph what will you infer? You will obviously believe that the SIT team told in the Supreme Court on Monday, April 13 2009, that the human right activists including Teesta Setalvad cooked up stories on riot incidents.
What is the truth?
The report of Special investigation team set up by Supreme court was actually submitted on March 2 2009 and not on April 13, 2009. It has been kept confidential ever since.Nobody from SIT was submitting anything on April 13 in the Supreme Court.
What actually happened was the Counsel for Gujarat Government Mr Rohatgi read from a written note submitted by the Gujarat Government to the Supreme Court,claiming that SIT report has found that the allegations made by NGOs like Citizens for Justice and Peace are false.In response Justice Pasayat said “we don’t want to go into the allegations. Justice must prevail. Truth can be arrived at only if there is such an atmosphere".
While the Supreme Court observed that there was no room for allegations and counter allegations at this late stage, the Times of India coverage has brazenly flouted this observation by reporting the totally baseless allegations against social activist Teesta Setalvad and the organisation she represents Citizen for Justice and Peace on the basis of the Gujarat government’s note circulated in the Court. This is all the more reprehensible because Teesta Setalvad and Citizen for Justice and Peace have neither been given a copy of the SIT report nor has their response been sought in the matter.
The very fact that the Supreme Court had to set up the SIT to correct the miscarriage of justice due to the tardy investigation by the state of Gujarat was highlighted in the court’s observation that but for the SIT investigation many more accused, who were freshly added, would not have been brought to book. It was the untiring efforts of Teesta Setalvad and the CJP and the National Human Rights Commission that persuaded the Supreme Court to set up the SIT and on the basis of its findings further arrests have been made of persons who held top jobs in Police and in the Modi ministry in Gujarat.
Why did Times of India report such allegation by Gujarat Government as truth?
What is the importance of the timing of the report?

All opinion polls about the current Parliament elections in India suggest that the BJP led NDA will not win enough seats to attain power in Centre. Most polls suggest that the stigma of Gujarat riots still haunts the BJP, especially among urban middle class and upper class voters.Times of India report may be a last ditch attempt by a compliant and unethical media to help BJP garner some more Parliament seats to help its agenda of Hindutvaisation of India. That's why such a report appeared in Times of India, 2 days before the beginning of month long polling.
edited to add..
Read rebuttal of CJP here and the TOI reporter's reply here. TOI reporter do not have an explanation for the way he distorted and made a false impression on the readers that SIT said such things on April 13 2009 in the Supreme Court.

We need the SIT report to be made public by the Court so that we can study it and come to a conclusion. Most probably the report will have some remarks against the CJP,but also more severe reprimand for the Gujarat Government. By quoting some selected parts supposed to be from the SIT report the Gujarat Government betrayed the trust of confidentiality of the Supreme Court for some narrow political gains.


  1. I don't know if Teesta Setalvad spiced up reports of the Gujarat carnage - all I know is that where were "wanton killings" post Godhra and that whatever happened there are not all "macabre tales"...

    TOI is trying to create a positive image of the BJP by running this story just before the election...The allegations that media is pro-Congress is therefore all rubbish...They are also pro-BJP...Basically, they are biased which they shouldn't be...

  2. Brilliant post Charakan!! I feel some of us support whoever we wish to support and every news report is read to support whatever we have brainwashed ourselves to believe. This inaccurate news report might get the BJP some extra votes.

    And the same people who believe Modi is exonerated because Teesta exaggerated, also try to say that Congress can never be pardoned for the 1984 riots. The double standards are disappointing.

    They ignore the fact that Congress never talked of declaring Sajjan Kumar or Tytler their Prime Ministerial candidate.

  3. Typo errors: "I don't know if Teesta Setalvad spiced up reports of the Gujarat carnage - all I know is that where were "wanton killings" post Godhra and that whatever happened there are not all "macabre tales" should be

    I don't know if Teesta Setalvad spiced up reports of the Gujarat carnage - all I know is that there were "wanton killings" post Godhra...

  4. Holy Shit!!I had no idea about that. I just read the TOI report and thought it to be true. Brilliant post indeed, where did you dig out the truth from?

  5. Thanx for taking the effort to dig this out
    Faith is getting shaken left, right and center

  6. Bones,I agree with you. Media houses have their biases which depends on many factors.But still overall I will say Indian media is an important pillar of our Democracy and secularism. But never believe a single newspaper or news channel.See what others say and come to a conclusion

  7. IHM, this TOI report is designed to malign Teesta and other human rights activists. By portraying the Gujarat Government allegations as the truth the report was highly unethical. The Sangh Parivar supporters are spreading this baseless report through out the Country by their blogs, emails, election meetings etc. I actually came to know about it from a blog. It is ironic that they are blaming the rest of the media for not publishing such falsehoods.

  8. Chikki,Many newspapers/news channels do such 'news plants' especially around election time. So always try to see what other news sources say about it before coming to a conclusion. No newspaper who covered the Supreme Court hearing on Gujarat riot case of April 13 reported what TOI said.So it is easy to find out the truth.

  9. Let the SIT report be made public. TOI reporter says the report is based on SIT report and not the note.

    And TOI planting stories for BJP? You cannot be serious. In one of your earlier post you yourself had said TOI has an anti-BJP bias.

  10. IHM,

    "They ignore the fact that Congress never talked of declaring Sajjan Kumar or Tytler their Prime Ministerial candidate."Both of them have been MPs and were nominated again for this election. Tytler has been a minister. So nominating for a MP or minister is fine but nominating for PM is not?

    And if you have to give an analogy, Tytler and Kumar are analogous to people like Maya Kodnani, not Modi. Modi is analogous to Rajiv Gandhi and Rajiv completed his full tenure as a Congress PM.

  11. RGB, thank you for the comment. My post is about how TOI deliberately published a distorted report of the events that happened in the Supreme Court on April 13.2009 with regard to Gujarat riot cases so as to help BJP in the elections.
    1. Why distorted? SIT did not present a report to Supreme Court on that day. The Counsel for Gujarat Government, [the prime accused in the cases], read out from a statement prepared and given to him. It contained the Gujarat Government's version of what SIT said in its report. The line in the TOI report "cooked up macabre tales of wanton killings” is directly copied from that Gujarat Government's note. Most other newspapers reported what actually happened.
    2. Why deliberate? The TOI reporter or the TOI editorial Board is not new to Journalism. The TOI reporter was actually present in the Supreme Court and witnessed everything. So publishing such a distorted report can only be deliberate and not a mistake.
    3.SIT report is as of now confidential and only the Gujarat Government, Supreme Court and Harish Salve have access to it. If the TOI have actual access to the SIT report wont they be celebrating it with front page exclusive extracts every day.Wont their sister concern the Times NOW will be flooding us with exclusive details? All news media are craving for such exclusive documents. In the distorted TOI report of April 14 there is no mention of TOI having access to the SIT report. If they have access to such an important and circulation-boosting document they would have presented it in entirely different manner. The fact that the TOI reporter claims he have access to the SIT report only in the rejoinder [when all the criticisms came up] make us convinced that only his access is to the Gujarat counsel Rohtagi's notes.
    4. Did I say TOI has an anti-BJP bias?????
    May be you must have confused me with some other blogger. I do not read TOI as it is hardly available in Kerala. What I said was about Times Now. In my post 'Is the Mainstream Media victimizing the Hindus’ I said I feel that Times Now and CNN IBN do not have any fixed bias.

    Planting Stories in newspapers just before elections take place very frequently and many of the unsuspecting readers do not realize it.All political Parties do it.TOI being a major Business group with interests in many businesses may need the support of Modi.Or this might be a 'thank you' note for some favors given.
    You may be aware that TOI has asked and was allotted preferential shares in many Companies under an agreement to promote editorially and by advertisement their products in TOI's publications.


Comments are welcome especially if you do not think like me. But anonymous comments behind masks and those not relevant to the post are not encouraged.