In 1999, after losing a no-confidence motion by one vote, the BJP+NDA came back to power after mid-term polls. It was a result that no doubt shocked the Congress and its ‘secular’ allies. The BJP victory was probably also helped by the Kargil war. That war produced a new media hero of sorts – Barkha Dutt. The StarNews team of Prannoy Roy, Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai had gained prominence during that time. People still believed what the media said. Then came Kandahar. The extra-ordinary hysteria and emotions that the trio whipped up during the hijack drama on TV was unbelievable. Relatives of the hostages were flung on to the screens. The distress, chest-beating, wailing and abusing of the minsters was a precursor of sorts. Some of us suspected that the media was not doing this on their own. There are still suspicions that many of the relatives of the hijack victims were instigated by both the Congress and the Left and the media to humiliate the NDA with abundant aid from this media trio. So even today after every terror attack Kandahar creeps into discussions. That episode was the one where paid media started to go downhill.
On the morning of March 1, 2002 if you had walked the streets of the relatively posh western parts of Ahmedabad you wouldn’t believe what had happened while you were sleeping. You could see shops and restaurants that were burned overnight. All these shops had such names – Bhagyoday, Kabir, National and so on – all belonged to muslims, and this was a predominantly Hindu area. While there was property damage there was no report of people being killed in the area. Even residents of Ahmedabad had no idea of the scale of the riots that were going on. And then suddenly on the scene bursts Barkha Dutt and then Rajdeep Sardesai (both with Starnews then) and some more.
Hour after hour after hour we hear the most horrific stories of mass killings all over the state. In cities, towns, villages and even on highways. Words like mass murder, genocide, pogrom start to gain currency in some quarters. Were there terrible killings? You bet, some of it very horrible. But the kind of dramatic and hysterical reporting on TV was no more news reporting. It was almost fanning the flames. So much so that in some areas some TV channels had to be shut down to contain the provocation. As in the case of war, even in an unfortunate communal riot such as this, ‘truth’ is the first casualty. The numbers-killed story was generously sprinkled with imagination of people being raped, foetuses ripped and more by the media. I can safely say that the response to the Godhra train burning was spontaneous. The Gulbarg case which has become prominent because of the widow of Ehsan Jafri, killed by mobs, were attacks by mobs that would have been difficult to handle by any police force given that many other parts of Ahmedabad were equally badly affected. For all this to make one man singularly responsible could not have been anything but an agenda driven media. This agenda had to be surely backed by political forces and extraordinary influx of funds. This is where the witch hunt of Narendra Modi started. Lies, lies and more lies have been peddled by the media since then. The best example is of Suzanne Arundhati Roy who oozed brilliant lies.
Writing about the Gujarat riots, Suzy Roy had this to say (Outlook, May 6,2002).
A mob surrounded the house of ex-Congress MP Iqbal Ehsan Jaffri. His phone calls to the director-general of police, the police commissioner, the chief secretary, the additional chief secretary (home) were ignored. The mobile police vans around his house did not intervene. The mob broke into the house. They stripped his daughters and burnt them alive. Then they beheaded Jaffri and dismembered him.
The description is graphic; the veracity of the incident taken almost for granted coming from a writer of Arundhati Roy's reputation. But, alas, that's where we make the mistake. Fame and honesty are not interlinked as the following paragraph clearly indicates.
Jaffri was killed in the riots but his daughters were neither 'stripped' nor 'burnt alive.' T.A. Jafri, his son, in a front-page interview titled Nobody knew my father's house was the target (Asian Age, May 2, Delhi edition), says, "among my brothers and sisters, I am the only one living in India. And I am the eldest in the family. My sister and brother live in the US. I am 40 years old and I have been born and brought up in Ahmedabad. So if Ehsan Jaffri had only one daughter (singular) who was safe and sound in the US, where did Roy get her facts about not one, but daughters (plural) being stripped and burnt? Was it the fantasy of a writer's mind? Or was it willful deceit aimed at maligning her ideological adversaries?
Arundhati Roy did apologise for her mistake in a letter published in Outlook May 27, 2002. Could this have been a genuine mistake, one is tempted to ask? But when such 'mistakes' occur periodically, the chances of them being accidental appear remote. They appear to be in fact calculated machinations aimed at achieving a specific goal as the following incident further proves. In the same article, Roy claims.
"Last night a friend from Baroda called. Weeping. It took her fifteen minutes to tell me what the matter was. It wasn't very complicated. Only that Sayeeda, a friend of hers, had been caught by a mob. Only that her stomach had been ripped open and stuffed with burning rags. Only that after she died, someone carved 'OM' on her forehead."
Disturbed by the thought of such a ghastly act, Balbir Punj (a BJP MP) had this matter investigated. In Outlook (Jul 08, 2002) he wrote. Shocked by this despicable 'incident,' I got in touch with the Gujarat Government. The police investigations revealed that no such case, involving someone called Sayeeda, had been reported either in urban or rural Baroda. Subsequently, the police sought Roy's help to identify the victim and seek access to witnesses who could lead them to those guilty of this crime. But the police got no cooperation. Instead, Roy, through her lawyer, replied that the police had no power to issue summons. Why is she hedging behind technical excuses? So when asked to prove her allegations, Arundhati Roy developed cold feet; definitely not the attitude of a crusader for truth.
Despite the lies being exposed, Suzy Roy continues to be hosted as a crusader by our media. For such absolutely blatant and deliberate lies no journalist would have survived in any mature and honest media. Such liars can expect to grow in the Indian media. On TV Rajdeep and Barkha continued their blitzkrieg against Modi, while the likes of Vir Sanghvi called him a ‘mass murderer’ in print. I have absolutely no hesitation in saying that the degeneration of TV news owes a great debt to both Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai. You could call them the leaders of the moral decay.
Now, after the riots calmed, out of nowhere came up another crusader. Someone called Teesta Setalvad, I had never heard of her before, she arrives on the scene with her NGO called Citizens for Justice and Peace. This NGO was created in April 2002, according to their website, to fight for justice for the riot victims. Hmmm! Suddenly, there was a flurry of affidavits being filed in the courts supported by Teesta’s group, flurry of FIRs being filed, complaints of lack of facilities at refugee camps. All this seemed noble till Teesta started appearing more often on TV channels. By now the newly born NDTV, CNN-IBN were already neck deep in targeting Narendra Modi at every opportunity. The discussions shifted from justice for the victims to singularly implicate Modi and somehow hang him. The Zahira case, the Best Bakery case, shifting of cases outside Gujarat, were all systematic effort at tarnishing Modi’s image and implying there can be no justice in Gujarat. Mind you, not one of these channels or journalists ever talked about justice for those who were burned to death on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra. Never mind!
Modi had then won the elections in December 2002. This was another blow to the media and the Congress. So later, Teesta and her cronies approach the Supreme Court and the SC also sets up an SIT to investigate. This year around 30 people are convicted for the Godhra killing of Hindu Kar sevaks. Contrary to expectations of the media and the Congress the SIT nails the lies of Teesta Setalvad and exposes her fake affidavits. Many witnesses back out from their original affidavit or testimony. In 2007, suddenly, Mrs.Zakia Jafri, widow of Ehsan Jafri finds evidence that some 60 officers of the state, including Narendra Modi, had conspired to engineer the riots and have her husband killed. This had to be the strangest concoction of a theory that came years after the investigation into the riots had started. The Gujarat High Court did not accept her petition finding no merit in it. That is how the Gulbarg case landed in the Supreme Court. Needless to say, her petition was obviously backed by Teesta Setalvad.
Despite the literary classic of ‘Maut ka Saudagar’ used by Sonia Gandhi, BJP wins the election again in 2007. As in the case of Suzy Roy, the media continued to host the tainted Teesta on their shows to support the malicious campaign against Narendra Modi. In the course of time Gujarat started gaining prominence because of development, investments and universal recognition of Narendra Modi’s performance on governance. So what happens? The Congress throws up a new hero, Sanjiv Bhatt, and more affidavits are filed in the SC.
Two of the prominent campaigners against Narendra Modi, Teesta Setalvad and Harsh Mander, go on to to a stage where they get to influence national policies and laws. They become part of a team, the NAC, that would draft the vicious Communal Violence Bill. Every step of the way these voices, along with nation-dividers like Digvijay Singh were given the biggest space in the media. If anyone remotely appreciated or associated with the work of Narendra Modi they were ripped apart. Ghulam Vastanvi and Amitabh Bachchan were fair targets for the Congress and the media.
The vicious anti-Modi industry is a mixed bag of media crooks, NGOs and politicians. A heady cocktail if you like and the only thing we don’t know about these liars is who funds them and to what extent they were funded. The misdeeds of the ‘cash-for-votes’ scam exposed Rajdeep Sardesai for what he is. But the final evidence of Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi being well entrenched in Congress persuasions was exposed by Radiagate. There was no place left to hide.
What the media did not anticipate in 2002 was another form of media. In 2002 the internet was just about growing in India, mobile phones usage was going up. There was no Facebook, Twitter, Youtube. The law takes time to catch up, but the social media doesn’t. In the absence of social network there was really no challenge to the corrupt media. The Congress was in power and they had a field day. Rajdeep, Barkha, Sagarika, Vir Sangvi, Prannoy Roy had established themselves as the most powerful force after the govt. One should recall a prominent editor once boasting that he “was the second most powerful man in India after the PM”. Naturally, the media believed the case against Narendra Modi was already rested. They had signed, sealed and delivered the judgement. He was guilty, he was a mass murderer and should be put away. The advent of the social network was a challenge the mainstream media did not calculate. Writers, bloggers, websites, tweeters, youtubers all started exposing the lies of the media.
The make-up and mask of Chachi 420 wasn’t meant to last forever. Like bad make-up, the media’s lies came crashing on September 12, 2011. The Supreme Court simply directed Zakia Jaffri to approach the lower court with her petition. Effectively, there was no significant evidence in her petition to pronounce any indictment of Modi or to warrant a probe against him by the SC. The SC also informed that it would not monitor the case further. The media crooks didn’t know which way to look. All the years of carefully crafted hate, lie-mongering had come undone in a single stroke. So, as in the case of many other verdicts, the media now even questions the wisdom of learned judges of the SC.
The media’s campaign against Modi shouldn’t be seen as a stand-alone case. The cottage industry of hatred has coloured every national issue. Be it terrorism, riots, communal harmony, civil rights. In all cases the media has mostly been on the wrong side of justice. Suddenly, new terms were being searched for “clean-chit”, “relief”, “breather” to describe the SC verdict on Modi. And just as they called the Ayodhya verdict a “panchayat” judgement this time the crooks called the SC verdict overlooking the “moral” aspect of the Modi issue. So when a media campaign fails the legal measure, they invoke the moral measure.
Politicians in India are not reputed to have great moral standards. It’s the media that has become the gutter and the drain. That tainted journalists like Barkha Dutt continue in their jobs is a feature you may not find in the media of any other democracy. The ones who should be accused and found guilty of moral failure and more are Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Vir Sanghvi, Suzy Roy and many more. The list is too long. The bigger danger is that there could be darker forces funding and handling a media that never fails to honk its independence. Next time any of these media celebs talk about morals, imagine them naked and see how full of shit they are.
From Kandahar to 26/11, from 1984 to 2002, from Ayodhya to Ahmedabad, I maintain that the current media is the greatest danger to Indian democracy. I don’t think Modi is debating whether it’s a clean chit or not. But the Supreme Court of India has clearly exposed the media’s clean shit.