“I, Spin Master, do swear in the name of God that I will faithfully execute the office and functions of Editor of the News of India, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Truth and that I will devote myself to the service and dissemination of facts and accurate information to the people of Republic of India”. Does any editor or journalist have to take such an oath of office? People in the judiciary (Yes, even lawyers), political office, public office have to take such an oath but not our editors. They have the absolute freedom to say or write anything and not be held accountable in any way whatsoever. And this freedom is mostly used to spin, for propaganda and in extreme cases, utter lies.
With hardly any facts, with little information on what exactly happened our news channels have already concluded that the death of Narendra Singh, IPS officer, who was crushed by a tractor in MP (on March 8), was the work of a mining mafia. Fact: Narendra Singh was reportedly fighting to curb the mining mafia. Fact: he confronted a tractor laden with stones from a quarry. Fact: in what followed the confrontation Narendra was crushed and killed by the tractor. Tragic. For a young, reportedly upright and honest, police officer to die in this fashion is a devastating blow to the force and for his family. His father made a very emotional statement: “I gave MP a diamond, they gave me a dustbin of ashes”. And he is right. Narendra’s wife also feels an organised mafia is behind her husband’s death. Quite understandable given her loss and grief. But much before full facts are known the media terming it as an act by some mining mafia is bewildering. For a change, I too write without the full facts out in the open.
Like politicians, media too relies on the fickle memory of the public. Still, most will remember the Aarushi murder case, the more recent Shehla Masood murder case where the media simply went berserk with speculation and their own motives for the murders. The Aarushi case remains unsolved and the Shehla Masood case has turned out to be a crime of passion rather than a Land-Mafia snuffing out a RTI activist as the media originally spun it. They even tried linking some BJP members in the case. In the case of Narendra Singh, predictably, the media went to party with the ‘mining mafia’ angle. Not even one reporter knew whether he was crushed by the front wheels, rear wheels or crushed by the stones as the tractor wobbled or fell sideways. Nothing! What’s the reason? Simple, once again a pro-Congress media mafia was targeting a BJP CM. Not just the CM, it allowed others to allege even the CM’s family was involved in the mafia.
Some channels (I think either TimesNow or CNN-IBN, I do not recall now) even pulled out reports from a long time ago on the mining mafia in the Morena area for an “I told you so” spin to the gruesome death. Off in a flash to the Stonehenge in Morena was Arunoday Mukherjee of CNN-IBN to show us the stones, why they are valuable, their properties and so on. Everything to establish a mining mafia was involved in the death of Narendra Singh. Not one single media outlet bothered to investigate the incident or verify any facts. You see, we haven’t taken any such oath to do so. Not one single media outlet bothered to check if the story was corroborated or if there is any other side. No sir, ours is the only story and we are right.
Dr. Ved Pratap Vaidik, a social activist and a frequent supporter of Baba Ramdev, had this to write on his blog about Narendra’s death: “The other angle” (This summarised excerpt is a loose translation from Hindi but I believe it is accurate and I am open to correction):
There are now varying reports in the newspapers. Manoj Gujar, the farmer driving the tractor was confronted by Narendra Singh, who asked him to stop at gun point. Fearing for himself Manoj started speeding the tractor. At this Narendra Singh jumped on to the tractor and tried to take control of the steering wheel. In the ensuing struggle Narendra slipped and fell and was crushed by the tractor. Manoj’s brothers say Narendra was a good police officer and they had no conflicts with him and that people speed up tractors to escape the police who demand huge bribes. As far as any mafia is concerned the driver is not serving any and his family has a good farming business. His family was constructing a second house for which he was carrying stones on the tractor. Police state his family is not even remotely connected with crime and no there is no question of working for any mafia.
I have provided the above excerpt for an alternate view of the incident and cannot vouch for the accuracy of Dr. Vaidik's notes. I do have doubts on why a criminal backed by a strong mafia would want to mow down a police officer. Given their clout, the mafias usually take care of their wiseguys from police trouble even after arrests. We haven't seen anyone being affected in any of the mining mafias and scams from Goa, Karnataka or AP. Have we?
The case has now been handed over to the CBI which has registered a case of murder against unknown persons. I am not thoroughly convinced this could be a murder in the usual sense of the word. A murder is usually pre-meditated with a strong motive. I don’t believe Manoj Gujar started out with his tractor and stones that day with the intention of running over a police officer. I also believe that the IPS officer may have indulged in avoidable bravado but this is going to run against popular opinion. I also do not believe a large organised mafia is behind this incident. I also know police officials on the highways harass freight carriers and indulge in extortion. I have seen this not just in MP but also in Rajasthan and UP. And this is money for no particular reason at all – it’s not even a bribe to overlook some irregularities. This is just milk money. Honest polices officers like Narendra Singh maybe exceptions but the sight of them still scares drivers.
A few days after this incident in MP another one happened in Tamil Nadu. A young 23 year old man was mowed down by a truck carrying sand. This time the noises about ‘sand mafia’ came up but died down quickly. The man must not have been significant or the political dispensation in TN maybe of no interest to the media. The media didn’t feast on the young man’s death as they did on Narendra Singh. Maybe these heroes should call the media before they undertake any confrontation with the mafia and not let media run riot with imaginary causes of their death. After all, media is the super mafia.