Years ago, I have come across a book of the “Learn English in 30 days” variety. I am unable recollect its title, but one of the exercises in it was to ‘rewrite a given passage to give it an opposite meaning’. The book indeed advises the reader to assume that he is “editing a rival newspaper” and that “the idea is to strip the passage of its context and meaning.” It helpfully adds, “Never mind the ethics. It is purely a technical exercise.” I am reminded of the book and the exercise, after reading an IBN-Live report following some tweets posted on it.
This is stuff that makes an essential case study for students of journalism. Firstly, it teaches students, what one tweeter, Narayanan (@visaraj) put as “Secular School of Grammar and Headline Writing”. Secondly, it demonstrates the power of the ever vigilant social media like Twitter; reason enough for the MSM to hate ‘tweeple’. Another tweeter Anil Kohli (@anilkohli54) unearthed an old Economic Times report (it dates back to 2003) to nail a haughty, self-styled human rights activist on whom the “Secular School of Grammar and Headline Writing” relied on to ‘put together’ its story.
This is about the latest twist to the SIT investigation into the post-Godhra Gujarat riots, specifically with reference to the allegation of Narendra Modi’s ‘pro-active’ role in controlling or ‘not controlling’ them. In an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court that is closely monitoring the investigation ordered by it, Sanjeev Bhatt, a Gujarat IPS officer claimed that he was present at a meeting of senior police officials in which Modi ordered them to allow Hindus to “vent their anger”.
LIES, DAMN LIES AND SECULAR TRUTHS
On April 26 IBN-Live posted on its website, a report titled, “SIT disregards Bhatt’s statement against Modi” written by its staffers Ashok Bagriya and Meghdoot Sharoon. There is an accompanying video which has an interview Karan Thapar had with K. S. Subramanium, who according to the report was, ‘part of a citizens (sic) tribunal inquiring into Gujarat riots.’
Now, it does not require the intelligence of an Einstein to understand which side the ‘citizen’s tribunal’ is on, for the main stream media to treat it like gospel. Please take a look at the relevant portion of the IBN-Live report:
“CNN-IBN has learnt that the SIT, which has submitted its findings to the Supreme Court, says that there is no documentary or supporting evidence to prove that Sanjeev Bhatt was present in the February 27 meeting, or that the Chief Minister issued instructions as claimed by Bhatt.
“The SIT also claims that all other senior officers it had spoken to had discounted Bhatt’s version.
“Among the senior officers SIT has relied upon is the former Gujarat DGP K Chakravarthi. On saturday, Chakravarthi told CNN-IBN that Bhatt was not present at the Feberuary 27 meeting.”
From this, we – the ordinary mortals – understand that the SIT found “no documentary or supporting evidence” to prove Bhatt’s version of the story. But evidently, IBN-Live does not want us to come to such an understanding. Hence the word “disregard” in the headline. Does it not make a subtle difference to the story: it seeks to convey that the SIT ‘found’ evidence that proves the veracity of Bhatt’s version but deliberately “disregarded” it? For, where is the question of “disregarding” something that was not found?
How then to ‘rewrite the passage to give it an opposite meaning’? Why, by bringing in more credible (as in ‘more equal’) evidence. So, IBN-Live fished for ‘another senior IPS officer KS Subramanium who was part of a citizens tribunal inquiring into Gujarat riots’. We are not told from where Subramanium crept out of the woodwork, but he told Karan Thapar “I had the opportunity to speak to Mr Chakravarthi and Commissioner PC Pandey in 2002 and they both admitted to me that these are the instructions of Narendra Modi in his meeting.”
We are now helpfully reminded of the contents of the affidavit that Bhatt, whose conscience awoke nine years after the riots, filed in the SC: “In his affidavit, Bhatt has claimed that the SIT, headed by a former CBI director RK Raghavan, is acting in a partisan manner. Bhatt also said that the SIT does not appear to be living to the enormous trust reposed in it by the Supreme Court to conduct and impartial and thorough probe into the allegations of larger conspiracy and administrative complicity behind 2002 Gujarat riots.” How else will we know what Bhatt stated in his affidavit – which according to law is just a ‘written declaration made under oath before a notary public or other authorized officer’. It may or may not be evidence yet and not even necessarily be the truth. Remember Teesta Setalvad’s affidavits?
IBN-Live had to admit that the SIT ‘dismissed Bhatt’s charges as baseless’ but subtly prefaced its admission with, ‘No SIT officer was willing to come on record’. Isn’t this sleight of hand preface similar to the subtle ‘disregard’ in the title? Or did IBN-Live seriously expect the SIT to comment on its confidential report to the SC?
‘THE MORE CREDIBLE EVIDENCE’
On January 16 2003, the Economic Times (with impeccable secular credentials) filed a report titled Eve-teasing blot on Modi-basher. The report refers to some extra-mural activities of the self-same K. S. Subramanium – on whose ‘more credible’ evidence Karan Thapar relied to give credence to Sanjeev Bhatt’s version of ‘truth’ as against that of the whole the SIT.
It appears Subramanium who happened to be a former DGP of Tripura was one of the authors of a ‘charge-sheet’ called ‘Gujarat Carnage 2002’ on behalf of a ‘Citizen’s Tribunal’, whose members included ‘such luminaries as Justice V R Krishna Iyer and Justice P B Sawant’.
However the January 16, 2003 Economic Times report was neither about the ‘Citizen’s Tribunal’, nor about the ‘charge-sheet’ called ‘Gujarat Carnage 2002’ nor even about the riots. It is about Subramanium’s arrest on a charge of ‘allegedly soliciting sexual favour’ from a woman. The report further adds that the ‘alleged’ incident took place in front of a Delhi University women’s college, ‘where the wife of the accused is the principal.’ And as ill luck would have it, the woman from whom our member of the ‘Citizen’s Tribunal’ ‘allegedly solicited sexual favour’ happened to be not an ordinary woman but a female cop. Of course Subramanium professed innocence claiming that it was all a frame-up. In another of those mysterious explanations which people come up with when copped (of which he might not be unaware of) Subramanium claimed he was only testing the alertness of Delhi police. And for Subramanium at least, the happy ending came when senior police officials (he is after all one of them) intervened to get him released.
The Economic Times report ends with this query: “Do the companions of Mr Subramanian think that the women on the roads of Delhi are also worthy of human rights?” on behalf of the skeptics of human rights activists. Well, do they?
Copyright and Disclaimer:
The views expressed in this blog/article are the author's own and not of this website. The author is solely responsible for the contents of this blog/article. This website does not represent or endorse the accuracy, completeness or reliability of any opinion, statement, appeal, advice, quotes from other reference materials or any other information in the blog/article. The same disclaimer applies to all the comments on this blog/article. Our visitors are free to forward this page URL (web address) to others in emails or put the links on individual facebook, twitter webpages strictly for non-commercial use. But the entire article should not be published/republished on other sites without the prior permission from us.