Neena Gopal to edit Deccan Chronicle, Bangalore

20 April 2008

Neena Gopal, the former foreign editor of the Dubai-based Gulf News who was in conversation with Rajiv Gandhi just minutes before he was blown up by a suicide bomber in 1991, is to be the editor of the Deccan Chronicle edition from Bangalore.

A DC edition in India’s most crowded newspaper market has been on the cards for sometime now, but the plans have taken flight only in recent weeks.

Office space has been bought on Brigade Road, the presses have been installed in Electronic City, the editor is in, and recruitments are on with DC Hyderabad editor A.T. Jayanti meeting dozens of journalists to put together the staff for the paper.

The Bangalore edition is expected to roll off before the elections to the Karnataka assembly slated to begin on May 10. Some sources say the new edition could come as early as this month-end. The current Asian Age edition from Bangalore will cease publication with the arrival of Deccan Chronicle. (Age and Chronicle are owned by the same company.)

With a Bangalore edition, Deccan Chronicle (whose television tagline is “Face of the South”) will have presence in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. Neena Gopal was rumoured to be in the running for the editorship of Khaleej Times before she took the DC offer.

Neena Gopal and Barbara Crossette of The New York Times had accompanied Rajiv Gandhi in the back seat of his Ambassador car as he sped from Madras to Sriperumbudur for an election rally. Minutes later, just yards from them, he had been reduced to a shattered mass of flesh.

Barbara Crossette wrote in NYT:

“For this rally, Mr. Gandhi’s car stopped about 25 yards short of the platform erected on an open meadow. As Mrs. Gopal and I paused to talk to Suman Dubey, Mr. Gandhi’s campaign press adviser, about whether we had had enough time with the former prime minister, and would make way for other reporters, Mr. Gandhi went on ahead toward the stairs to the platform.

“As Mrs. Gopal and I followed there was a sudden burst of what sounded like firecrackers and then a large boom, an explosion and a cloud of smoke that scattered people all around. It was over in a matter of seconds. The crowd at first froze and then began to stampede.”

Eerily, Neena Gopal was to have accompanied Benazir Bhutto on her (wapasi) return from exile to Pakistan in October 2007, which culminated in a failed suicide attempt.

Neena Gopal wrote of that incident in Outlook:

“Seventy-five minutes before Benazir Bhutto’s flight took off from Dubai airport for Karachi, her security advisor Rahman Malik called and said, “Are you packed? Your visa for Pakistan is ready. I didn’t make that flight. But I did get on the next one, landing straight into the bloody reception that most people had predicted was lined up for Benazir.”

Read the full NYT article: Assassination in India

Read the Outlook diary: The castle entered

Photograph: Neena Gopal at a farewell party hosted by the Indian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Talmiz Ahmed, for her and her husband Veenu Gopal, in Dubai, in October 2007.

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7 Responses to “Neena Gopal to edit Deccan Chronicle, Bangalore”

  1. S K Kumar Says:

    Being somewhere near someone who is about to die or killed seems to be a quailification to become an editor

  2. anis ahmed Says:

    S K Kumar don’t crib. Neena Gopal is a well known journalist both in Dubai and Bangalore. There are editors in Bangalore who still can’t write a copy straight and have to be helped by political reporters and other subs. Neena is definitely better placed them to become an editor!!

  3. Juby Joseph Says:

    Neena Gopal is an erudite analyst and a sagacious journalist with an eye for detail. Besides being acclaimed for conducting ground braking interviews with top political titans from South Asia from Rajiv Gandhi to Pervez Musharraf, her 27 year tint in te UAE has equipped her with arsenal potent enough to wage the grim battles that the world of journalism holds in store. Media behemoths like the Gulf News, for which she was the foreign editor and the Khaleej Times, for which she was once in the running for Editor, are papers of substance that Indian counterparts like the TOI, Hindu and even the DC can only envy and admire. Having being brought up in the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf News evokes fond memories, which I still remember, to have accompanied my morning glass of milk. The professional overtones in the various articles that it featured, remaon etched in my memory. I even recall my English teacher asking us to cut out articles from the Gulf News, that we deemed to be significant socially or otherwise, so that it could be discussed in class otherwise. I owe much of my literary perpspectives and stances to my childhood days which i spent blissfully perusing through the pages of the Gulf Times, of course, with a tattered Collins Pocket English dictionary close by, just in case I ran into trouble, which was not uncommon considering my contemptilbly impecunious vocabulary then.

    However it would be injustice to brand Neena as an editor par excellence. She has had her share of controversies. In an article titled ‘In Search of a leader’, she was alleged to have made some instigating remarks, which besides reeking of offence was accused of concealing ‘some unpleasant truths’. In her pursuance of showing sympathy for late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Neena Gopal, in the truest sense of the term shed crocodile tears. She wrote, “New Delhi was unable to sense the tide of public opinion turning against the man they helped install in Dhaka failing to help him feed his starving people as floods, a crop failure and spiraling prices sparked by the worldwide oil crisis of 1973 fuelled political unrest.”

    Referring “Many analysts in Dhaka”she said, India’s “neglect” to help or save Sheikh Mujib “was deliberate as Shaikh Mujib’s larger-than-life stature threatened to turn him into a hero in India’s sensitive north-east rife with separatists,” and his “killing marked the return of the anti-Indian lobby in the military to the seat of power.”

    Neena Gopal’s above comments dishonoured not only Sheikh Mujib, but also the heroic people of Bangladesh. She wants to say it was not the people of Bangladesh but “New Delhi ” that “helped install Mujib in Dhaka.” These very comments deny our liberation war, our sacrifice for independence and empower Sheikh Mujb in Dhaka. She wants to say it was India that made Bangladesh and installed Sheikh Mujib in Dhaka. Neena, however, then agreed that India deliberately did not come forward to help Sheikh Mujib to face the problem that he faced during his three and a half-year of reign that paved the way for the coup of August 15.

    The reality was that India planned and staged the entire crisis to make Sheikh Mujib failed in running Bangladesh. It is India that created hurdles not only for Sheikh Mujib, but also for the newly free country that emerged from the rubbles of destruction. India’s subsequent behaviour and its integrated and repeated non-friendly activities proved that India helped Bangladesh in 1971 not to liberate it, but to keep it under its fold and direct control.

    Well, let bygones be bygones. it may seem as if I’m unceremoniously endeavoring to tarnish the image of an accomplished journalist and a venerable icon. But I have merely authored comments that I conceive, that the readers of the Deccan Chronicle ought to know. She is indeed an individual that i personally admire, for her grit and integrity. Here’s hoping in earnest that the travails of this iron lady elevates the status of the print media to an all-new high.

  4. Sathya K Says:

    Dear Juby Joseph,
    Is this your CV?

    Dear Anis Ahmed,

    Are you Neena Gopal’s alter ego?

    Thanks and regards,

    Sathya K

  5. Hanaan Bint Hashim Says:

    It was great talking to Ms Neena Gopal yesterday. I know she is well known journalist both in Bnagalore and Dubai.Ms Neena was very amaiable and kind in her speech.I had contacted her through one of her best friend. Though I could just have a few minute sparing with you yesterday, that was really a wonderful oppurtunity i have got.You are really one of the best mam, I hope I will be socially be able to contact you today for my presenation.


  6. Happy to see Neena as our new editor.
    Wish under her editorship Deccan Chronicle should become number one in the world.

  7. v seshagiri Says:

    happy to know neena is the editor of bangalore edition.have a request for her. hope she will respond


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