Reluctance of Editors' Guild to condemn Maoist killers of Doordarshan cameraman shameful

By Surajit DasguptaFirst Published 1, Nov 2018, 5:03 PM IST
Highlights

Present-day journalism entitles journalists to be biased. We're all biased. But double standards do not highlight a leftward or rightward leaning. You do not have to be red or saffron to condemn the killers of a fellow professional.

Few may know that the occupational hazard of a journalist employed by Doordarshan to cover terrorism-affected areas of the country like the Valley in Jammu and Kashmir and Dantewada of Chhattisgarh is much greater than that other journalists must contend with. That is because the terrorists consider the reporters, cameramen and crew of Doordarshan representatives of the Government of India, the 'enemy' of the 'misguided youth'. 

To mitigate the risk, the crew in a Doordarshan OB van in Kashmir or Dantewada hangs a board with different signs on either side on the vehicle's windshield. When moving in the protection of the security forces, the sign carries the DD logo. While entering a terror-infested zone, the crew turns the board around, the other side of which reads just 'media'.

Also read: Naxals attack media in poll-bound Chhattisgarh; Doordarshan cameraman among those killed

Sharing this information with MyNation, Doordarshan anchor and presenter Ashok Srivastava expressed his disapproval of the Editors' Guild of India's sketchy 'condolence' message on Twitter. Earlier, he had taken exception to the EGI's statement on Twitter, with the implication that the fraternity of journalists seemed ill at ease condemning Maoists. Indeed, the tweet by EGI urges the government to provide more protection to journalists operating in sensitive areas but there is no howling over the atrocity of communist terrorists.

Shameful and condemnable.This is the complete statement of editor's guild after the killing of cameraman of by maoists in Dantevada. Are these people scared of maoists or are they are their sympathizers? This act is disgraceful. https://t.co/wp4W8I27Jf

— Ashok Shrivastav (@ashokshrivasta6)

Notably, the convenient front of the Maoists that have ravaged central India for the past decade and more — the urban naxals — are 'rights activists' for them. How can the trio of Shekhar Gupta, AK Bhattacharya and Sheela Bhatt question the 'people's revolution'? This is how even the mainstream CPI(M)'s politicians and favoured intellectuals have been describing armed sedition in the country since Bengal erupted in the second half of the 1960s.

Also read:  Naxal funding crackdown: NIA confiscates Rs 1 crore following raids in 15 locations

Ironically, at least two of the senior journalists named above had for long been associated with newspapers known for hard-selling pro-market policies. Pray, how can businesses thrive in an environment of terror, which these very scribes soft-peddle with their shameless defence of urban naxals?

Arrests of Left activists/intellectuals is McCarthyism taken to another level. Playbook: use commando-comic channels to malign those you want to 'fix' with zero evidence, then arrest them on nothing charges but draconian laws. Courts will be tested for their wisdom & spine

— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta)

And that is not the only irony. In 2011, The Indian Express, with Gupta as its chief editor, had dismissed as frivolous the bunch of activists led by Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi.

Has he revised his opinion about these disruptive elements of society called 'activists' because now there is a different government at the Centre (as well as the affected states)? Was Prashant Bhushan of India against Corruption and Aam Aadmi Party dangerous while that very defender of urban naxals is benign? In fact, the Bhushans were not only hypocrites for the said newspaper during the UPA era, the Express had gone on to paint the family of lawyers as corrupt beneficiaries of the then Mayawati regime of Uttar Pradesh!

Were the communal rioters of Gujarat 2002, whom Bhatt had covered extensively for Rediff, greater evils than those who kill to build a sickle-shaped "Red Corridor" from Gadchiroli of Maharashtra to the Seemanchal area of Bihar to break India and establish a communist regime right in the middle of the country's landmass?

Well, present-day journalism entitles journalists to be biased. We're all biased. But double standards do not highlight a leftward or rightward leaning. It is opportunism sans ideology.

Worse, the family of Sahu, who laid down his life in the line of duty, gets nothing more than a perfunctory message of condolence from the fraternity he was a part of. This is deplorable.

Last Updated 1, Nov 2018, 8:16 PM IST