Archive for December, 2011

Rajeev Chandrasekhar picking up Eenadu TV?

15 December 2011

For a paper which turns its nose at news about the rest of the media, The Times of India has a strange item on its business page, news of the mobile phone entrepreneur turned member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, evincing some interest in Ramoji Rao‘s Eenadu television chain in Andhra Pradesh.

The ToI report comes a day after a Business Standard report that Network 18 was in the midst of merger talks with Eenadu. There has been plenty of market buzz that Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance Industries has been more than interested in Eenadu through its subsidiaries and friends like Nimesh Kampani.

For the record, Chandrasekhar already owns news properties in print and television in Malayalam (Asianet News) and Kannada (Suvarna News, Kannada Prabha).

Also read: Kannada Prabha is now Rajeev Chandrasekhar‘s

Rajeev Chandrasekhar buying a Malayalam daily?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar eyeing Deccan Herald?

T.S. SATYAN Awards for Photojournalists

14 December 2011

The winners of the T.S. SATYAN Memorial Awards for Photojournalism 2011: (Left to right) Yagna, K. Gopinathan, Netra Raju, Bhanu Prakash Chandra, Regret Iyer, M.S. Gopal

sans serif is pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural T.S. Satyan Memorial Awards for Photojournalism, instituted by India’s first web-based photosyndication agency, Karnataka Photo News, in association with churumuri.com, in memory of the legendary photojournalist who passed away two Decembers ago.

The awards will be presented by the governor of Karnataka, H.R. Bhardwaj, in Bangalore on Sunday.

Lifetime achievement award: Yagna, ex-Hindu, Udayavani, Mangalore

Best newspaper photojournalist: K. Gopinathan, The Hindu, Bangalore

Best professional photojournalist: Netra Raju, The Times of India, Mysore

Best magazine photojournalist: Bhanu Prakash Chandra, The Week, Bangalore

Best freelance photographer: ‘Regret Iyer, Bangalore

Best online photojournalist: M.S. Gopal, eyeforindia.blogspot.com

Nominations for the awards came from the Karnataka media academy, press club of Bangalore, Karnataka union for working journalists and the photojournalists association of Bangalore. The lifetime achievement award carries a cash prize of Rs 10,000 and a citation; all other prizes carry a cash prize of Rs 5,000 each and a citation.

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Read more about/by the winners

K. GOPINATHAN: Why namma Gopi (almost) cried in January 2008

REGRET IYER: Success is standing up one more time than you fall

M.S. GOPAL: Every pictures tells a story. Babu‘s can fill a tome

M.S. GOPAL: When Chamundi betta relocates to amchi Mumbai

‘The New York Times’ calls Sibal’s Facebook bluff

13 December 2011

Indian politicians are long used to happily denying what they said on record (and in front of cameras) without ever having their versions contradicted. Union telecommunications and information technology minister Kapil Sibal is learning the hard way that The New York Times isn’t write-your-pet-hate-newspaper-or-channel-here.

Last Monday, an NYT story which said “Big Brother” Sibal had urged global giants like Google, Facebook to “prescreen” user-content set off an online storm. The Congress party quickly dissociated itself from the minister’s remarks and Sibal was reduced to furiously back-pedalling before chummy TV anchors ever eager to oblige.

On Karan Thapar‘s “Devil’s Advocate” programme on CNN-IBN, Sibal said nobody from his ministry talked to NYT, nor did anybody from NYT talk to his department, and that the piece was based on Congress party sources.

Further, Sibal made heavy weather of a light-hearted comment made by an  NYT reporter at a press conference, even going so far as to suggest that the New York Times somehow wanted to get at him.

New York Times has responded to the charges and said it stands by the original story.

# The article posted on Dec. 5 notes, “Mr. Sibal’s office confirmed that he would meet with Internet service providers Monday but did not provide more information about the content of the meeting.’’ India Ink called three people in his office before posting the article: Mamta Verma and S. Prakash, spokespersons who said they had little information about the issue, and Ranjan Khanna, a secretary who was unavailable.  The article attributes no information to Congress Party personalities.

# The reporter who wrote the article, Heather Timmons, introduced herself to Sibal at a news conference the day after it was published with the phrase “just trying to keep you on your toes.” It was intended as a friendly nod to the fact that he may not have liked the story, but that nothing personal was meant by it.

Image: courtesy Outlook* (disclosures apply)

Read the full article: Our response to Kapil Sibal

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Should Facebook be censored?

Bombay Times, Hindustan Times and plagiarism

13 December 2011

Hindustan Times had an ethical malfunction 15 years ago, when its then editor V.N. Narayanan was revealed to have plagiarised over a thousand words of his Sunday column from Bryan Appleyard‘s piece in the Sunday Times of London the previous week. (Narayanan was let go without a formal explanation from the paper as to why a new editor had taken charge.)

Now, The Times of India shines the light on an even wierder case of plagiarism involving HT.

Neha Maheshwari of Bombay Times wrote ‘More than friends’ on the supplement’s television page on December 9. Unbelievable as it may be, ToI says the same piece appeared with the same byline and the same text in the Hindustan Times city supplement HT Cafe on December 11.

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Karthik Srinivasan writes that HT has tendered an “apology”:

 

Image: courtesy Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd

Read the full article: Imitation is the best form of flattery

Also read: How should publications deal with plagiarists?

‘Plagiarists speed up spread of knowledge’

If imitation is the best form of flattery…

The award for the best opening paragraph goes to…

Since flattery is best expressed through imitation—II

Everybody’s is changing the game these days

Did R.K. Laxman subtly stifle Mario’s growth?

12 December 2011

MARIO, BY KESHAV

The passing away of  the legendary Illustrated Weekly of India, Economic Times and Femina cartoonist and illustrator Mario Miranda in Goa on Sunday, has prompted plenty of warm reminiscences from friends, colleagues and co-linesmen, along with a vicious doosra.

Bachi Karkaria recalls her colleague from the third floor of The Times of India building in Bombay:

What can I say about Mario? That he was one of India’s most distinctive cartoonists? That he was arguably an even better serious artist in the detail and spirit with which he captured the places he lived in and visited? That he, along with Frank Simoes, gave Goa to the world?

That he was to the magazines of The Times of India what R.K. Laxman was to the daily paper? And, dare I say it, that Laxman was the Lata Mangeshkar who subtly ensured that the pedestal was not for sharing?

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Pritish Nandy in the Economic Times:

Mario had a room on the same floor where I sat. And when I moved into the editor’s corner room at The Illustrated Weekly of India, a few months later, his room was next to mine. But that didn’t mean anything because Mario rarely came to office.

He worked on his cartoon strips mostly at home in Colaba and was awful with deadlines. This was largely because every afternoon, or almost, he would go for lunch or a long walk and would end up in a movie hall, all by himself.  There was no movie he didn’t see. It was the idea of slipping into a dark theatre and watching the moving picture that excited him.

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MARIO, BY UNNY

E.P. Unny, the chief political cartoonist of The Indian Express, has a page one anchor:

To call Mario a cartoonist would be like seeing no more than the elegant living room he entertained you from, through a long warm Goan evening. “Take a break and be my guest,” he said. “Come and sketch the whole of this house. Should take a week or so if I keep a close eye on you to make sure you don’t run off to do the day’s cartoon.”

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Ditto the cartoonist Manjul in DNA:

“Mario was the one and only ‘celebrity’ Indian cartoonist. He endorsed a reputed clothing brand in TV & print commercials in the 1980s. In 1979, Basu Chatterjee, director of the Hindi film Baaton Baaton Mein, based the looks of the hero, a reel-life cartoonist played by Amol Palekar, on Mario.

One can see his house in Shyam Benegal’s film Trikaal. Benegal shot the film in and around Mario’s house in Goa, a heritage building known for its Portuguese past and architecture. And no one can forget the iconic visual of a Sardarji sitting inside a bulb with books, which has graced Khushwant Singh’s column in almost every Indian newspaper for many years.

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Ajit Ninan in The Times of India:

“We grew up in a time when all things worthy of awe or admiration came in pairs – Tata-Birla, Ambassador-Fiat, Coke-Pepsi, and so on. In the world of cartooning, Laxman-Mario was such a pair. All my lines I have learnt from studying the two titans of those times.

“Just as Bollywood brought India to the world, Mario brought Bombay to India. His mastery of architecture and of fashion trends was one of the keys to this. Mario’s ornate illustrations of the colonial structures of Mumbai wouldn’t have been possible for anyone with a weaker grasp of architecture.”

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The cartoonist Jayanto Banerjee pays an illustrated tribute in the Hindustan Times:

As does the cartoonist Jayachandran Nanu in Mint:

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Deccan Herald has an editorial:

With Mario Miranda’s death, the country has lost an eye that looked at it with understanding, compassion and irony for many decades and saw what was most often unseen and lost to most of us…. Everything was grist to his mocking eye and subtle lines—politics, society, business, attitudes, fashions and all that was part of life. His world was peopled with things and characters everyone recognised and lived with. The world he created out of them became the obverse one familiar to us and helped us to look at our own world with greater comprehension.

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Austin Coutinho in Mid-Day:

Back in the ’60s, for me, Mario Miranda was ‘God’! I would lie in bed, incapacitated by asthma – wondering where my next breath would come from – and live in the make believe world of Mario’s cartoons. There was this little book titled ‘Goa with Love’ in which he had drawn cartoons of village life in Goa. The book would be by my bedside and it was as if I knew each of those characters on a first name basis…. My greatest regret in life will be not having ever met the ‘God’ of my schooldays. May his noble soul rest in peace!

Cartoons: courtesyThe Indian Express, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Mint

Also read: Has R.K. Laxman drawn his last cartoon?

Making all of us smile can make one of us cry

Look who inspired R.K. Laxman‘s common man!

EXCLUSIVE: The unpublished doodles of R.K. Laxman

The 25-paise mag where R.K. Laxman began

South meets North: ‘Deccan Herald’ now in Delhi

11 December 2011

Karnataka’s oldest English newspaper, Deccan Herald, has made a brave northwards foray with the launch of its New Delhi edition on 11 December 2011, 100 years after political power moved to the national capital from the east.

Vol 1, No 1 of the 63-year-old Bangalore daily arrived this morning in the usual quiet, understated manner in which The Printers (Mysore) Pvt Ltd conducts things: no carpet bombing of copies, no “roadblock” of hoardings, no massive pre-subscription drives.

“We are happy to start the Delhi edition of Deccan Herald today. It’s the seventh edition since we launched the newspaper in Bangalore in June, 1948. Our strength is the trust we have won from our readers—a trust built on credibility and our commitment to objectivity. We offer you comprehensive coverage of news without bias,” said a front-page note from the paper’s editor, K.N. Tilak Kumar.

The launch issue with a cover price of Rs 5 has a 20-page main edition and this being a Sunday, an 8-page weekend culture section titled Sunday Herald. During the week, DH will serve Delhi versions of its usual fare:  a four-days-a-week city supplement titled Metrolife and a lifestyle supplement on Saturday titled Living.

Printed at the Indian Express press in Noida, DH‘s Delhi edition with four local pages gives the regional daily a more national profile, useful for reporters and newsmakers; and an additional publication centre that can be used to good effect on the advertisement tariff card.

But it also comes with massive challenges. The “Deccan” in the paper’s title has a distinctly south Indian feel; will it find resonance among readers in the North? Second, the New Delhi morning market is crowded with over a dozen newspapers with at least two more coming; can DH aspire for anything more than “organic growth”?

However, for sheer chutzpah, the timing of the Delhi launch takes some doing. Newspapers like The Telegraph have  pondered coming to Delhi for at least 15 years but have not found the strength to do so. Also, DH (designed by Palmer Watson) comes at a time when the Indian newspaper industry is facing several existential issues.

But DH has established itself as a horse for the long race over six decades. The arrival, therefore, of a serious newspaper from a group which has no interests other than journalism, when the Indian media is being asked probing questions on its methods, motives and motivations, can only be good augury.

Former India cricket captain Anil Kumble (centre), the chairman and joint managing director of The Printers (Mysore) Pvt Ltd K.N. Tilak Kumar (right), and the veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar at the launch of the Delhi edition of 'Deccan Herald' in New Delhi on Sunday, 11 December 2011

Also read: Coming soon, Deccan Herald from New Delhi

Finally, a redesign not done by Mario Garcia!

How Deccan Herald welcomed the Republic of India

‘Business journos deserve credit for reforms’

10 December 2011

India’s second oldest business magazine, BusinessWorld, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month. A special issue to mark the occasion features all the  editors of the fortnightly turned weekly magazine from the Ananda Bazaar Patrika (ABP) stable talking about their respective tenures:

Dilip Thakore (now editor, Education World): I served as editor of BusinessWorld for seven years (1981-87) during which — together with a strong and reliable country-wide team — I produced 166 issues of this then fortnightly magazine, and wrote over 100 cover stories which I believe transformed the national mindset about the character and potential of private sector business and industry.

Looking back in retrospect, I believe it was the missionaries of BusinessWorld (and Business India) who deserve a greater share of the credit for the 1991 liberalisation and deregulation of the Indian economy — than Dr Manmohan Singh and his over-hyped lieutenant Montek Singh Ahluwalia who were enthusiastic executives, if not architects, of licence-permit-quota raj for several decades and who were at the time earning unmerited dollar fortunes in the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

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R. Jagannathan (now editor, First Post): My predecessor Dilip Thakore had made the magazine a hit with big business by pioneering personality-oriented writing…. Thakore reported on personalities, accompanied by large, professionally shot pictures. Critics sometimes rubbished this approach as soft PR, but I believe it was an important stage in the development of business journalism in India. He humanised business writing…. Thakore helped businessmen get comfortable with the camera, and coaxed them to bare their souls to the media….

BusinessWorld saw the growing interest in share investment and created a 16-page ‘InvestmentWorld’ section — perhaps the first general business magazine to do so. A bonus: if I recollect right, an amateur technical analyst called Deepak Mohoni also debuted in BusinessWorld, and was the first one to coin the term Sensex for the Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index….

Another change that looked big then, but now appears routine, is colour. For the first time ever, BusinessWorld introduced 32 pages of colour during my watch. It was a bold statement to make to our readers, but we needed that to capture the bright new tapestry of Indian business. The black-and-white dullness of the Indian economy was about to change forever. But we didn’t know it then.

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T.N. Ninan (now chairman, Business Standard):  My time at BusinessWorld (1993-96) was a productive and satisfying period when we ran some really good stories and profiles, introduced prize columnists like P. Chidambaram and Ashok Desai, and saw the over-all development of the magazine and (if memory is not playing tricks) a trebling of circulation in those four years.

Two other points are sources of satisfaction today: how well some colleagues of the time have done in their subsequent careers, in India and overseas — leading publications and TV channels, and winning awards — here and internationally; and the warmth and mutual regard that members of the team still have and share.

Unfortunately, there are no photographs of the Sarkar brothers doing a gentle jig, along with everyone else including Shobha Subrahmanyan who was the chief executive, around an evening campfire above a Goa beach, where we had gone for an editorial conference but played water-polo. Those pictures might have undermined the staid image of Aveek, Arup and Shobha, back home in Calcutta (as it was then), and were confiscated!

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Tony Joseph (now heads MindWorks): No sooner had I taken over than the Vajpayee government decided to shake up the sands of Pokhran with a nuclear explosion. We were discussing how to handle that week’s issue and I remember the advice one senior colleague gave me.

“Ask yourself what Ninan would do,” he said, referring to T.N. Ninan, my predecessor, former boss and probably the most influential business journalist in the country. If that comment implied a certain lack of confidence in the new editor, I pretended not to notice! With a novice at its helm, I think we pulled off that issue without disaster, but soon other bombs were to go off.

A few weeks into my editorship, a consultancy firm that ABP had hired was considering what to do with BusinessWorld — let it go, or let it grow…. We started with a staff of about 71 in April 1998 and about a year and a half later, that number was down to 51, made up mainly of new recruits. Of the original staff, barely seven or so remained. I can only say that my communication skills must have been remarkable for it to have produced that dramatic an effect. Talk about inspirational leadership!

I would come into the office every morning wondering who was going to leave that day — and what would be up on the office notice board. Those who thought the magazine was going downhill despite the rising circulation would put up newspaper cartoons depicting clueless bosses making bone-headed decisions. I still wince at the sight of Dilbert cartoons!

However, we managed to retain some senior staff and build a core team of editors and writers who together shaped a new Businessworld, one that captured the zeitgeist of changing India. The change was not just in terms of what stories we covered, but also how they were covered.

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Jehangir S. Pocha (now co-promoter, NewsX): When I joined BW, my peerless predecessor, Tony Joseph, had already turned it into India’s most sold, most read business magazine…. But the best products re-invent themselves before they are forced to. With India transforming, ABP’s editor-in-chief Aveek Sarkar wanted to refresh and re-think BW.

Given that charter, I felt BW had to transcend the traditional business news weekly formula of summing up the previous seven days. Instead, I wanted BW to become a forward-looking magazine, a kind of soothsayer and sentinel
for business.

Convinced that BW had to be world-class, New York-based designer Francesca Messina was commissioned to redesign the magazine. In-house art director Jyoti Thapa Mani, her team and I spent many hours bringing Francesca’s design to life, giving BW the look and new sections it boasts today. Though a new edit team also formed at the magazine, we remained committed to BW’s inimitable mixture of clever thinking and clear writing.

Killer hospital was featured in two magazine lists

9 December 2011

Hindsight is 20-20 and this isn’t the time to point fingers, of course, but the ghastly fire accident at the AMRI hospital in Calcutta that has left nearly 90 dead, most of them patients, draws attention to the pitfalls of magazines, newspapers and TV channels getting into the ranking game, beyond their ken of expertise.

On the hospital’s website are two images showing that AMRI had been featured in the “Best Hospitals” ranking of The Week* magazine, and the “Most Caring Hospitals” ranking of India Today*.

While such rankings can certainly be considered information useful to readers, and perhaps AMRI was both among the best and the most caring, in reality pollsters and journalists are mostly operating in the dark, as the accident shows.

*Disclosures apply

All the news that is fit to cook, serve and eat

9 December 2011

Although his reputation as a political journalist lies in tatters after the Niira Radia tapes, Vir Sanghvi is still a marquee food name in the Hindustan Times‘ Sunday magazine, Brunch. When not reporting for his paper’s hunger project, former HT managing editor Samar Halarnkar whips up a food column in the business daily Mint, titled Our Daily Bread

Business Standard opinion pages editor Mihir S. Sharma used to do a food column of sorts in his former port of call, The Indian Express even while he was gorging on sweet meat. And rare is the journalist who doesn’t confess to spending quality time in the kitchen to “destress”.

Which leads us to ask, after cooking up stuff at their day-job—in a manner of speaking—does cooking food come naturally to journalists? Or can only a cook who knows what to serve for the body know what it takes to serve for the mind?

Sourish Bhattacharyya writes about the latest chef on the block in Mail Today:

Journalists seem to have discovered a second career in the kitchen. [Former ToI and Express staffer] Satish Warrier led the way with the much- acclaimed Gunpowder in Hauz Khas Village and now Arun Kumar, journalist-turned-filmmakerturned-chef (in picture, above), has rescued Zambar from its amateurish foray into South Indian cuisine….

Unlike Jiggs Kalra, who was the first journalist to get into the food business but has never cooked in his life, Arun Kumar ( like Satish Warrier) has been a serious hobby chef. He picked up recipes on his many filmmaking assignments across the country and replicated them for Ritu Dalmia’s catering company.

Photograph: courtesy Mail Today

Also read: When Samir served a thali, Vineet served a scoop

Julie & Julia, Betty Crocker and “Premila Lal

ToI food writer Sabina Sehgal Saikia is dead: RIP

Assam journalists plea to PM on detained journos

8 December 2011

Two journalists of the newly launched (and rather awkwardly named) northeast daily, Seven Sister’s Post, are missing after they went into Burma on a story and one of their colleagues reportedly put up a Facebook status update that they had gone in search of the ULFA founder Paresh Baruah.

What initially seemed like good publicity for the paper launched on 11/11/11 and edited by Subir Bhaumik, formerly of the BBC, has quickly become a  diplomatic headache for India, not to mention the anxiety for the families of the two detained journalists.

Now journalists from Assam have shot off a letter to prime minister Manmohan Singh (who incidentally represents Assam in the upper house of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha) expressing concern and urging the government to step in. Below is the full text of the letter.

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Guwahati, December 6, 2011

Respected Sir

Namaskar. Hope this letter finds you in fine spirits and health.

We, on behalf of Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA), would like to inform you that two Assamese journalists remain untraced since their detention in Myanmar (also known as Brahmadesh) on December 3 last. Both the journalists had reportedly gone inside the country for interviewing Paresh Baruah, the self-styled military chief of banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).

The news broke on December 4, 2011, when the news agency Press Trust of India (PTI) reported about their detention somewhere in Myanmar-China border areas. The PTI  quoted R.K. Singh, Union home secretary for the information. While Singh denied the detention of Paresh Baruah who is at large after fleeing from Bangladesh, he informed that ‘ULFA leader Jivan Moran  and an Indian journalist were detained in Myanmar’

Later it was revealed that two journalists (namely Rajib Bhattacharya who works for a newly launched English daily Seven Sister’s Post from Guwahati and a photo-journalist Pradip Gogoi) were detained inside Myanmar.

The chief editor of the newspaper, Subir Bhaumik, who used to work for BBC as East India Correspondent till last year, said in a television interview that his colleague (Rajib Bhattacharya) went to Myanmar in the middle of October last. “It was his project and he was determined to take the assignment,” Subir Bhaumik said adding that he had no
contacts with Rajib Bhattacharya since then.

Rajib’s wife Rashmi Sharma, also a journalist, said in a television bite that she received an SMS weeks ago, where the journalist only said that he was fine and waiting for the interview.

Hiranya Bhattacharya, Rajib’s father and a former DGP of Assam, said in a television bite that he has no information about Rajib going inside Myanmar. “I only knew that Rajib went to Imphal (capital of Manipur) and later he was supposed to move to Aizawl (capital of Mizoram),” Hiranya Bhattacharya said.

The duo (Rajib Bhattacharya and Pradip Gogoi) were reportedly detained in the north-eastern part of Myanmar bordering China and later the Myanmarese authority released both of them after confiscating their laptop, camera and cell phones . Both the journalists were supposed to arrive in Tamu-Moreh (Myanmar-India border point) by the evening of  December 4.  Rajib’s wife in Guwahati was contacted by some officials in the Union Home Ministry and assured that Rajib was released by the Myanmarese authority and he will soon enter Indian side (by December 4 itself).

But till this moment, both the journalists have not returned to Assam. No information is available with the family about their whereabouts. The Guwahati based journalists contacted the India Embassy in Yangon where the office of the Ambassador denied having any information (about the detention of Indian journalists and subsequent release inside Myanmar).

We have not seen any statement about the incident from the Myanmarese government. Unfortunately the Assam government led by Tarun Gogoi and even the Union Home Ministry have not issued any statement about the incident till date.

We are really worried about the confusing reports regarding the fate of the two journalists, who have neither come back, nor have been traced by any agency. So we would like to make a formal request to you for taking personal interest in this matter, so that journalists Rajib Bhattacharya and Pradip Gogoi are traced and their return to India is ensured at the earliest. The Myanmarese government may also be approached by the PMO for relevant information about the two journalists.

We would be grateful for your kind initiative.

With regards,

Rupam Baruah,
President, Journalists’ Forum Assam

For the record, Subir Bhaumik had claimed to have played a key role in securing the release of a policeman abducted by Naxals in West Bengal two years ago.

Also read: How mainstream media has neglected Manipur

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