Wednesday, September 9, 2009


It was just the kind of news that excites media tycoon Prannoy Roy. The timing too was near perfect, state elections looming. Everything in place to resume a no-holds barred personal attack on Narendra Modi on the Nine O'clock News on NDTV on September 08, 2009, and project Ishrat Jahan as the innocent teenager killed in cold blood by him. Suddenly, it all went wrong. So wrong, in fact, that Roy could not prevent himself from lamenting the fact that the Gujarat government had "dug up" a Home Ministry affidavit that claimed that Ishrat Jahan was indeed a terrorist.

What has gone wrong with the media? Is terrorism nothing more than a tool to score cheap political points that do not befit even chai wallas? Must every action of the police in Gujarat be seen as a personal indictment of Chief Minister Narendra Modi? How can the media talk of justice when it wants the nation to treat every terrorist, including Ajmal Kasab, as innocent till proved guilty finally by the Supreme Court, but has already pronounced Modi a mass murderer? How can these fake defenders of law expect the nation to accept the enormous delay in sentencing of a handful of those who wage war against the nation, when they say in the very next breath that they cannot wait for the law to pronounce its verdict on Modi only because it will take many years ?

Why is there near utter silence on fake killings in Congress-ruled states like Maharashtra, Manipur etc? Why does not anyone in the media talk about the stark fact that terrorism in Punjab would never have got over had Chief Minister Beant Singh, duly blessed by Rajiv Gandhi, not given Police Chief KPS Gill a free hand to deal with terrorists and even their families "summarily"? Who does not know that witnesses were afraid to testify against any terrorist, and the conviction rate in courts was so dismal that had Gill not taken charge in the manner he did, things would have been very different in Punjab today?

Did anyone ever try to cheaply politicise what the Punjab Police did then to destroy terrorism in Punjab? May be it was because, to India's good luck, these media tycoons were not around to turn every incident into a third-rate political fight between the Congress and Akali Dal etc. Had they been there like they are now, India would probably have not till today defeated that terrorism that at one stage had looked totally out of control.

A magistrate has reached a conclusion that Ishrat Jahan was killed in a fake encounter, under seemingly questionable circumstances. The Gujarat High court has, in fact, already pulled up magistrate Tamang and stayed his report. Will anyone be surprised if his judgment turns out to be political rather than legal? But is the media even taking that line of argument? Is this the first time a judge has been used as a political tool? Have people forgotten what Laloo Yadav did on becoming Railway Minister, and why?

Yesterday, stung by the blow of the affidavit, Prannoy Roy could not stop himself from taunting Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP by asking him if his party would accept a CBI inquiry into the fake encounter. Does he not himself know what the CBI has been doing at the behest of the Congress in the cases of Mulayam Yadav and Mayawati? Does he think those who are watching him don't know?

Why are people like him not appalled by the cancerous politicisation of all institutions of the government that is destroying the faith of Indians in the police, bureaucracy and the judiciary? Why do they almost always speak on issues in a manner that appears to benefit the Congress directly or indirectly? Are these guys really journalists? Or are they hidden spokesmen of a political party, like, say, Chandan Mitra openly is? Or, worse, are they now businessmen who are additionally constrained to take the line that lubricates their growth and makes them richer?

I must also mention that on many occasions, watching some of these tycoons and anchors one does not feel one is watching national news. It is as if one is watching a few close friends gossiping over a few drinks at home about common enemies. It is evident that the Lakshman Rekha that should separate the media and the politicians has got almost totally blurred in India. Intimate social intermingling with politicians has manifestly rendered media luminaries incapable of saying what they must, with the truth, objectivity and honour that their profession demands.

Every Indian will agree that if Ishrat Jahan was killed in a fake encounter, the cops responsible for the killing should be severely punished. But, for the media to almost deliberately try and convert every killing of a Muslim into a divisive and communal vote-catching opportunity on behalf of the Congress, is a development that is going to cost the country heavily. India's independent and free media should have been in the vanguard of a movement to steer the country away from the politicisation and resultant destruction of almost all institutions of the state. Unfortunately, sections of it are hell bent on using their platforms to do exactly the opposite, without being responsible in any manner for the outcome of their words and reports.

The affidavit that, for Prannoy Roy, was an embarrassment to the Congress has nothing to do with Congress party all. Should it not be treated as an objective, apolitical assessment of officials of the Home Ministry, on a matter concerning national security? That is what such documents should be, irrespective of the political party in power. But, by publicly making it look like a political document, just because its line is similar to that of a state government he manifestly hates with all his heart and soul, Roy has hit one more nail in the coffin of the permanent institutions and structures that must form the bedrock of the government of any nation.

Unfortunately, even as I write this, NDTV is continuing its affidavit-bashing on the political ground that it will help Modi! So blinded are some sections of the media and some media personalities by their rigid biases and political affiliations that they will not let officials do what they are supposed to do in the interest of the nation and to ensure the safety and security of innocent citizens. They want everyone to tow their political line, no quarters given, to hell with integrity. God knows where we are headed.