Archive for August, 2012

Bangalore journo in plot to kill editor, columnist?

31 August 2012

The Times of India, Bangalore, runs a picture of reporter Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui but doesn’t not name the newspaper he worked for: Deccan Herald

A reporter of the Bangalore-based Deccan Herald has been arrested, along with 10 others, allegedly for links with “global terror outfits”, and the police have claimed that the group planned, among others, to assassinate an editor and a columnist, and the publisher of the newspaper they were earlier employed in.

The journalist—Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui, 26 (in picture, above), an education reporter with the well-regarded Deccan Herald—has been named by the police as the “mastermind” of the alleged plot.

The editor in question is Vishweshwar Bhat, the editor-in-chief of the Kannada daily, Kannada Prabha, and the Kannada 24×7 news channel, Suvarna News (both owned by the member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar).

The columnist is Pratap Simha, the news editor of Kannada Prabha.

The publisher is Vijay Sankeshwar, the truck operator who built Kannada no.1 daily Vijaya Karnataka (where Bhat and Simha were employed), before they moved out two years ago after he sold the paper to The Times of India group. (Sankeshwar now runs a rival daily called Vijaya Vani.)

***

Deccan Herald reports the story on page one in all its editions but the news of Siddiqui’s alleged involvement is buried in the seventh of a nine-paragraph story with this line:

They (the arrested people) were identified as Shoaib Ahmed Mirza alias Chotu, 25; Abdullah alias Abdul Hakim Jamadar, 25; Ijaz Mohammed Mirza, 25, who worked for DRDO; Mohammed Yousuf Nalaband, 28; Riyaz Ahmed Byahatti, 28 and Muthi-ur-Rehman Siddiqui, 26, a reporter working for this newspaper.

On the inside pages, Deccan Herald quotes Siddiqui’s brother:

“Speaking from Hubli, Siddiqui’s brother Atta-Ur-Rahman said: “I know my brother. Such activities were never part of his life. He is scared of even talking aloud… How will he lift a gun?” he asked.

According to Atta-Ur-Rahman, his brother was always aiming to be a journalist and his only passion was reading.  Atta-Ur-Rahman claimed that he was certain that the police will not be able to trace any link between his brother and LeT/ HUJI.”

In a related story from Hubli, from where several of the suspects were picked up, DH reported:

“The two suspects had come to Hubli recently. They were allegedly given instructions by journalist Muthi-Ur Rahman Siddiqui to spread jihad in the region, the neighbours said.

“Siddiqui, it is said, was the secretary of the Students’ Islamic Organisation four years ago.

“Subsequently, he shifted to Bangalore where he allegedly came in contact with the banned Bangladesh-based HUJI and recruited operatives for the terrorist outfit.

“Sources said Siddiqui allegedly met other terror suspects in the City regularly and conspired to kill political leaders. They were in Bangalore on August 5 and had used a certain Imran’s computer to send hate SMSes and posted inciting video clippings online to spread rumours that North-Eastern people would be attacked.”

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Kannada Prabha, the newspaper where both Bhat and Simha work, frontpages the story of the arrest of the 11 “ultras”, names the editor, columnist and publisher, but refrains from naming the journalist involved or his newspaper. (Kannada Prabha competes with Praja Vani, the Kannada daily from the Deccan Herald group.)

Kannada Prabha, the paper where Vishveshwar Bhat and Pratap Simha work, front-pages the story of “Mission Kill Pratap”. The paper claims the operation had been codenamed “Ramesh Marriage” to avoid suspicion

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Vijaya Karnataka, where Bhat and Simha worked before they left to join Kannada Prabha, does not name Siddiqui on the front page or the potential victims.

 

***

The Hindu, which first reported that several of the 11 people were “missing” on Thursday, before their arrest was formally announced, too quoted Siddiqui’s brother:

“He is the third of the five brothers and the mildest of all. Journalism has been his passion. I returned from Dubai and we had gone on a tour. When we were in Bijapur, we received the news from a colleague of his that he had been taken away by the police for inquiry on Wednesday. Even now we don’t really know what is happening. We are shocked”, said Atha-ur-Rahman Siddiqui who is the eldest brother of journalist Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui.

The last conversation he had with Muthi-ur-Rahman was on Tuesday night. “We have a small house at Bandiwad Base. I wanted to get it renovated and wanted to speak to him about it. He said it was difficult for him to get leave but would visit Hubli by Friday. I tried his number continuously on Wednesday evening but it was switched off. I cannot imagine Muthi-ur-Rahman doing all that that is being told on television. There must be some confusion, I will seek media help to get him out of all this,” said Atha-ur-Rahman Siddiqui.

Also read: Is management responsible for content too?

Journalist vs journalist in Bangalore free-for-all

Why N.J. Nanporia bought a carved table

27 August 2012

sans serif records with regret the demise of N.J. Nanporia, the half-Parsi, half-Japanese former editor of The Times of India and The Statesman in Poona. He was 88 years old.

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray pays a warm tribute in Business Standard:

“No other Indian I have known in 54 years in journalism has been so reluctant to push himself into the limelight. George Arthur Johnson, my first editor, and Nanporia were both silent men whose power lay in their pens. Neither was a pretentious phony prancing around the country and world. Both knew everything that happened without venturing out of the editor’s room. Nanporia’s editorial maturity, wisdom and breadth of knowledge were sorely missed in the vacuum after he was pushed out in 1975.

“One manifestation of his catholicity was the expansion into other fields of his collection of Chinese porcelain. A Ming vase needed a carved table, so he bought one. The table couldn’t stand on the bare floor. He got the right period carpet. The wall behind called for suitable decoration. And so it went on. I didn’t see his treasures. But he showed me photographs and letters from Christie and Sotheby authenticating his pieces.”

In his recent memoir, Kuldip Nayar wrote about Nanporia:

“I was unhappy in the Statesman. C.R. Irani had reduced me to the position of consulting editor from resident editor. He then wanted me to vacate my room as well, and asked me to sit somewhere else. Subsequently, he withdrew my peon and telephone too.

“The only person who stood by me during those days was my secretary, G. Barret. She refused to work with Nihal and preferred to stay on with me. I was reduced to writing only my weekly column, ‘Between the Lines’. Irani tried to stop that too but did not succeed because the editor N.J. Nanporia refused to permit that.”

Photograph: courtesy The Times of India

What brainwave has struck our netas tonight?

23 August 2012

Mail Today cartoonist, R. Prasad, salutes the geniuses in the Indian government using the trouble in Assam to play around with Facebook and Twitter, including by reportedly blocking the IDs of journalists Kanchan Gupta and Shiv Aroor. The latter has put up this image on his Twitter handle.

Also read: Should Facebook be censored?

Say ‘No’ to India’s blogger control Act

Should the censor’s tighten Savita bhabhi‘s hook?

How media misuses subsidised land: Episode 324

23 August 2012

The misuse of land allotted for media houses is rampant. In Chhattisgarh, several newspapers—including Dainik Bhaskar—have now been slapped with notices for violating the deed under which they were given government land at a concession. An audit found these premises being used for commercial purposes.

The Indian Express reports on six of them:

DAINIK BHASKAR

Audit report: Land given in 1985. A new building, where the paper is likely to shift soon, is under construction. “Construction is on above ground+3 floors, which is illegal. According to the display board of Bhaskar Group at the spot, DB City, Corporate Park, is being constructed, and contact numbers are also mentioned for taking shop/office on lease/rent… the government should cancel the deed and take possession of the land. But the authorised officer did not conduct a ground survey and the Bhaskar Group is being given undue benefit.” The report said the newspaper had taken unauthorised possession of an adjoining 9,212 sq ft belonging to the jail department.

In September 2009, the Raipur administration sent a notice to the newspaper to deposit Rs 7.62 crore by March 2011. Reminder sent in April 2011; amount not deposited.

Present status: When The Indian Express called the number 8962112000 displayed on the “DB City, Corporate Park” billboard, a person who identified himself as Rajneesh Tiwari, marketing executive of Bhaskar Group, said only a few floors in the building would be for press purposes and the remaining would be corporate offices. “Agreements have been signed with several MNCs and they are soon opening their corporate offices. We are also planning a rooftop restaurant.”

Newspaper’s response: “No violation of the land deed.”

Read the full report: Chhattisgarh newspapers get notices

Also read: Power plans of DB Corp, Dainik Bhaskar & DNA

‘Media houses are sitting on land leased at one rupee’

Bangalore journos named in site allotment scam

The curious case of Karan Thapar & a flyover-II

21 August 2012

After 17 articles on the City pages of The Times of India, Delhi, the 14 owners and residents on Palam Marg—including the media baron Aroon Purie and the TV anchor Karan Thapar—respond to the allegation that they objected to the expansion of a flyover becasue it threatened to eat into the service road in front of their mansions.

Image: courtesy The Times of India

Also read: The curious case of Karan Thapar & a flyover-I

Those PR dudes earn more and drink more too

16 August 2012

An American poll ranks editors and writers as the fourth heaviest coffee drinkers in that country, and among the most likely to add flavour to their coffee.

Is coffee the preferred poison of Indian editors and writers at the workplace? Or is it chai?

Link via Srinivas Bhashyam

Also read: Coffee Day is right. A lot can happen over a cup

A lot can happen over coffee. Like a war, maybe?

When a coffee is more than just a coffee

Coffee, journalism and blogging

The curious case of Karan Thapar and a flyover

7 August 2012

One of India’s top voices, Lata Mangeshkar, earned a fair bit of negative publicity for opposing the construction of a flyover on busy Peddar road in Bombay because it threatened to disturb her peace of mind.

Now, one of India’s top TV faces is threatening to follow in her footsteps in Delhi.

On July 29, The Times of India reported that anchor Karan Thapar had opposed the expansion of a flyover in the posh Vasant Vihar area because it would eat into the service lane in front of his house.

“Arguing that this could become “a matter of life and death”, Karan Thapar has written to lieutenant-governor Tejendra Khanna, pleading that “at all cost the service lane between houses 1 to 8, Palam Marg (Olaf Palme Marg), must not be further reduced in width but retained at its present width.”

In the letter dated July 13, Thapar claimed he was speaking on behalf of other residents. “I know that Aroon Purie, Editor-in-Chief of India Today and Aajtak, and Harmala Gupta, daughter of late Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh, endorse and support the request I am making in this letter…”

“The reason this worries me is that even with the present width of 6m, fire tenders cannot with ease access houses on this stretch of the service lane.”

In a follow-up story on August 5, ToI makes mincemeat of Thapar’s claim, quoting residents in the area who see an attempt “to hold the city to ransom for personal benefit”.

“The claim that it will be a matter of ‘life and death’ as fire engines and ambulances will not be able to reach their house is bogus, as is clear from the fire chief’s statement,” said Ratna Sahai, owner of house no 10, Vasant Marg. “The original Rao Tula Ram flyover was meant to be longer and wider. But these people had used their clout to have this altered and truncated into an abbreviated two-lane flyover to protect their precious service lane.” This allegation had earlier been denied.

Refuting Thapar’s claim that he had approached the president of the residents’ welfare association, Gautam Vohra, president of Vasant Vihar RWA, told TOI: “I have never been approached by Karan Thapar regarding the flyover or any related issue. These people have never raised their voice on water or other problems faced by people of the area, nor have they taken any interest in addressing issues of greater public good.”

Rajni Mathur, resident of C block and RWA member, pointed out that these people had themselves reduced the public service road to beautify what they treated as private land. “These are just a few people who don’t even live here and have never come to the RWA. They have encroached upon the service lane with gardens, guard houses and parked cars. They are concerned about their tenants leaving rather than anything else,” she said.

External reading: Express Newsline

Now, The Times of India takes on Financial Times

4 August 2012

First, Financial Times took out an advertisement, in the name of its CEO John Ridding, in response to an ad appearing in The Times of India  promoting the desi “Financial Times” published by Times Publishing House.

Now, the Times group has returned the favour with an an ad, not in the name of its CEO but of its company secretary Amita Gola, in response to Ridding’s missive.

Also read: Financial Times takes on The Times of India

Thrice bitten, will FT find real love after 20 years?

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