Posts Tagged ‘Pratap Simha’

When NaMo joins hands with a journo, it’s news

8 April 2014

Photo Caption

The BJP’s “prime ministerial candidate” Narendra Modi has, at best, enjoyed a tenuous relationship with the media and media professionals.

Although media houses which he spurned are now eating out of his hands, the Gujarat chief minister continues to be generally more comfortable with owners, whom he gives helicopter rides or calls on personally while visiting their cities.

But in Mysore, on Tuesday,  Modi made space for journalist Pratap Simha, the 36-year-old columnist of Kannada Prabha, who is the official BJP candidate from Mysore.

Simha, who created a stir with his blazing Saturday columns at the Rajeev Chandrasekhar-owned Kannada Prabha and previously at the Times of India-owned Vijaya Karnataka, was the alleged target of a “terror” plot in 2012, in which a journalist was named. The police claim, however, fell flat.

Let the record show that a journalist who had never seen the sun rise, now begins his day at 6 am.

Let the record also show that at extreme left is the former Karnataka minister S.A. Ramadas, whose threat to commit suicide was caught on live television.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Bangalore journo in plot to kill editor, columnist?

Anti-minority bias in plot to kill editor, columnist?

9 lessons a ‘terror-suspect’ journo learnt in jail

27 February 2013

Deccan Herald journalist Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui has walked out of the central jail in Bangalore a free man, six months after being named by the city’s police in an alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba plot to target two Kannada journalists and the publisher of the newspaper they were earlier employed in.

Siddiqui had been accused of being the “mastermind” of a gang of 15 in August last year to kill editor Vishweshwar Bhat, columnist Pratap Simha and publisher Vijay Sankeshwar, allegedly for their “right-wing leanings“. The journalists were with Vijaya Karnataka of The Times of India group, before they joined Rajeev Chandrasekhar‘s Kannada Prabha.

The national investigation agency (NIA), which investigated the case, didn’t name Siddiqui in its chargesheet on February 20 following which a special court trying the case ordered his release on February 23.

On Monday night, Siddiqui walked out of jail and on Tuesday, he addressed a press conference.

Reporting for the Indian Express, Johnson T.A. writes:

About six months ago, when he appeared in court for the first time after being named by the Bangalore Police, Siddiqui, 26, still had the glint of youthful exuberance in his eyes.

But now, the first thing that comes to mind on seeing Siddiqui after his release from prison on Monday, is the disappearance of that enthusiasm from his face. Gone is the glint in his eyes, and in its place is a serious, sad man.

Even so, Siddiqui, whose thesis suggestion for his PG diploma in mass communication—‘Media coverage of terrorism suspects’—was struck down by his supervisor pulled no punches in describing his own ordeal before his colleagues, compatriots and competitors.

***
siddiqui

Deccan Herald journalist Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui with a relative at a press conference at the Press Club of Bangalore on Tuesday, 26 February

# “The media has forgotten the ‘A’ in the ABC of Journalism [Accuracy-Brevity-Clarity].”

# “I always thought the police, media and society at large do not treat terror suspects fairly. That thinking has been reinforced by my experience.”

# “Security agencies are not sensitive towards the poor and weaker sections of society. If you look at the way the entire operation was carried out by the police and reported by the media, this insensitivity is clear.”

# According to the [Bangalore] police and the media, I am the mastermind. If I am the mastermind, why are the others still in jail? I hope they too will get justice.”

# “The media and the police need to be more sensitive toward the downtrodden, Dalits and Muslims. The way the media and the police behaved raises basic questions about their attitude toward Muslims.

# “Muslims are often cast by the media and police in stereotypes. There is an institutional bias which manifests in such cases. This is not just about me; it is about hundreds like me who are in jails [across the country] on terror charges. Muslims are not terrorists.”

# “If I was not a Muslim the police wouldn’t have picked me…. They first arrest people, then find evidence against them. What happened on August 29, 2012 was no arrest but downright kidnapping. A bunch of strong men barged into our house and forcefully took us away in their vehicles. This even as we were pleading and asking why we were being taken out.”

# “They kept interrogating me as if I was the mastermind and kept saying that I’d be in for seven years for sure. Everyone knows that jail is no fun place. For the first 30 days we were cramped in a small room. The confinement itself was torture.  They did not inform our families. They did not tell us what we were being arrested for. They made us sign 30-40 blank sheets of paper. One of these papers was used to create fake, back-dated arrest intimation.”

# “Some fair play is still possible in the system. Though justice was delayed, it wasn’t denied in my case.”

Siddiqui, who is still on Deccan Herald‘s roster, says he wants to go back to journalism, for that is his passion, but wants to spend time with his family first.

Two other journalists—Jigna Vora of The Asian Age and S.M.A. Kazmi—have been arrested in recent times on terror charges. They are both out on bail.

Photograph: Journalist Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui at a press conference in Bangalore on 26 February 2013 (courtesy Md. Asad/ The Times of India)

Also read: Bangalore journo in plot to kill editor, columnist?

Anti-minority bias behind foiled bid on journos?

L’affaire Mohammed Haneef

Anti-minority bias behind foiled bid on journos?

1 September 2012

The home in Hubli of Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui, the ‘Deccan Herald’ reporter arrested in Bangalore on Thursday for allegedly being involved in a plot whose targets included an editor, a columnist and a newspaper publisher (Photo: courtesy Praja Vani)

For the second day running, most newspapers in Bangalore refrain from naming the editor, columnist and newspaper publisher who were allegedly the target of a failed assassination attempt, “masterminded”, according to the police, by a reporter working with the Bangalore-based Deccan Herald.

(The first information report (FIR) filed on the arrests names the three targets: Vishweshwar Bhat, Pratap Simha and Vijay Sankeshwar, respectively.)

The only news organisations to give play to the names of the three media persons was Suvarna News, the 24×7 Kannada news channel owned by the member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and of which Bhat is also editor-in-chief, which repeatedly flashed their names.

The Kannada news channel TV9 ran a news item on Thursday night which showed Sankeshwar repeatedly sobbing on discovering his name on the hitlist but has avoided naming Bhat and Simha in news bulletins and other programmes.  (TV9 and Suvarna News are competitors.)

***

The Times of India, generally not the first newspaper which reports stories on journalists, bucks the trend (graphic, above):

Prathap Simha, a journalist with Kannada Prabha, was a target along with his editor Vishveshwar Bhat. The suspects allegedly wanted to kill Simha because he had written a book in Kannada on the Gujarat CM titled “Narendra ModiYaaru Thuliyada Haadi” (Narendra Modi – The Untrodden Road) in 2008.

“A laptop seized from a suspect contains this book and a picture of Simha interviewing Modi,” a senior police officer said. When contacted, Simha said: “I have also written a book on Muhammed Ali Jinnah in Kannada.”

However, Vijaya Karnataka, the Kannada daily that The Times of India group bought from Vijay Sankeshwar six years ago, extends no such courtesy. And this, although Vishweshwar Bhat was the editor of the paper, Pratap Simha its star columnist and Sankeshwar its owner.

Ditto Praja Vani, the Kannada daily owned from the Deccan Herald stable.

To its credit, Praja Vani carries a long, 14-paragraph story from Hubli, the hometown of DH reporter Siddiqui (see picture, above), even as the arrests look poised to become a human rights’ issue.

In its story, Praja Vani reports the humble circumstances from which Siddiqui rose to be a reporter at Deccan Herald.

“The money he sent home each month was what sustained us siblings (three brothers and two sisters). The financial condition of our family improved only when Siddiqui joined work…. Since there is no TV set at our home, we came to know of his arrest thanks to our neighbours,” his sister Shamshad Begum said.

In a related story, Vijaya Karnataka suggests that another journalist may be picked up in connection with the foiled attack. (Market leaders Vijaya Karnataka and Praja Vani compete with Kannada Prabha, where editor Bhat and columnist Simha now work, and with Vijaya Vani, the new paper launched by Sankeshwar.)

***

Although the motive to kill Bhat, Simha and Sankeshwar was unclear on day one, Deccan Herald quotes anonymous police sources on day two:

“They (the sources) also claimed that they were about to execute one of their targets, a columnist of a Kannada daily allegedly harbouring an anti-minority bias. The police, who were tracking the modules for the past couple of months, had caught wind of the plot and busted the module.”

The Hindu has a clarification:

In a report from Bangalore published in the issue of August 31, headlined “Journalist among 11 arrested for ‘plotting terror in Karnataka’,” the description of some journalists who were purportedly targeted by the alleged plotters as ones “known for their virulent anti-minority columns” was unfair and unwarranted, and escaped gatekeeping mechanisms that are in place to keep such editorialising comments out of the news columns of this newspaper. That description, as well as the loose and imprecise reference to the “divergent ideologies” of two terrorist organisations are regretted and may be deemed as withdrawn. — The Editor

Also, in a surprising first, The Times of India has a rare good word for rival Deccan Herald, where Siddiqui worked:

“Hard disks from the computers used by the journalist at his workplace and other documents have been seized. The employers of the journalist have cooperated with us,” police sources said.

Also read: Bangalore journo in plot to kill editor, columnist?

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.”

***

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

***

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

Journalists vs journalist in Bangalore free-for-all

11 April 2012

The page one story in 'Kannada Prabha' on Tuesday, in which a journalist claims to have broken a story before a Bangalore tabloid editor who is claiming credit for it.

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: A veritable dogfight has broken out in Bangalore between a 24×7 Kannada news channel owned by the MP, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and the owner-editor of a weekly Kannada newspaper.

On the surface, the dispute is over credits for a recently released Kannada film.

But, deep down, the spat has served as a platform for some unabashed shadow-boxing between two leading Kannada journalists that has already seen plenty of bile being spilled on the tabloid editor’s parentage, his sexual exploits and financial dealings, not to mention his journalistic vocabulary and targets.

And everybody from film folk to co-journalists have been happily indulging in a slugfest that has also become a TRP battle between the two leading Kannada news channels.

***

When the Kannada film “Bheema Teeradalli” opened last Friday, Ravi Belagere, the editor of the popular Hi! Bangalore  tabloid popped up on the No.1 Kannada news channel TV9.

He claimed it was he who had unearthed the story of Chandappa Harijan, on whom the film had allegedly been based, but he had neither been consulted by the film makers nor acknowledged in the credits or compensated for it.

All through the TV9 show, the film’s producer, director and actor hemmed and hawwed on where they had suddenly found the inspiration for the film while Belagere, a regular face on Ramoji Rao’s ETV, tore into them.

***

The moment the two-hour TV9 show ended on Saturday, the scene of action shifted to Suvarna News 24×7, Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s news channel whose editor-in-chief is Vishweshwar Bhat and whose friendship with Ravi Belagere has seen better times.

(Belagere used to write a weekly column for Vijaya Karnataka edited by Bhat and Bhat played a guest role in a film produced by Belagere that didn’t quite see the light of day.)

Ravi Belagere (centre), editor of Hi! Bangalore, with Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha editor-in-chief, Vishweshwar Bhat (left), in happier times

***

For months, the two Bangalore journalist-friends turned foes had been at each other throats, more in private than in public. It’s been open season since the film row broke.

On one night on Suvarna News, Pratap Simha, the news editor of Kannada Prabha (a Kannada daily owned by Chandrasekhar and edited by Bhat) and who had been the attacked in a cover story in Belagere’s publication earlier, threw a series of challenges to the tabloid editor.

On another night, the publisher of a competing tabloid pulled out love letters allegedly written by Belagere. A telephone caller, who claimed he was a police inspector, called Belagere “loafer” and “420” on-air.

***

Ravi Belagere again reappeared on TV9 to explain the many photographs and videos he had shot to prove his “intellectual property rights” over the disputed film, but the film’s key men had parked themselves in the Suvarna studios.

In between, Kannada Prabha jumped in to the action.

On page one on Tuesday, it led with the account of another journalist T.K. Malagonda, who claimed he had written about Chandappa Harijan long before Belagere, and that he had provided all the information and photographs to him and that he had not been acknowledged for his effort—the very claim Belagere was making.

On Tuesday night, Suvarna News went one step further. As the two-hour show went on, a crawler ran on TV screens: “If who have been harassed by Ravi Belagere, please dial 080-40977111.”

A long and famous friendship, it seemed, had come to an end.

Vishweshwar Bhat, new editor of Kannada Prabha

7 February 2011

Vishweshwar Bhat, the former editor of the mass-circulation Vijaya Karnataka belonging to The Times of India group, has joined the State’s fourth largest paper, Kannada Prabha, as editor-in-chief, in a move that is likely to shake up the Kannada newspaper market in more ways than one.

Bhat was introduced to the editorial staff and management team of Kannada Prabha by Manoj Kumar Sonthalia, chairman and managing director of The New Indian Express group which owns Kannada Prabha, in Bangalore this evening.

On his newly launched blog, Bhat called the shift to Kannada Prabha a “homecoming”, having served it for four years as sub-editor in the initial stages of his career and then having done another four years at the Asian Schoool of Journalism when it was launched by the Express group.

Bhat confirmed the shift to sans serif. (An announcement of the appointment was made on the front page of Kannada Prabha on Tuesday, February 8)

The popular yet controversial Bhat quit Vijaya Karnataka on 8 December 2010, and the market had since been abuzz about his next port of call. Bhat himself wrote on his blog that he briefly considered launching a new newspaper but had to abandon the idea of a startup because of the constraints of printing presses.

There were also rumours that Bhat was headed towards Udayavani, the Kannada newspaper published by the Pais of Manipal, but clearly Kannada Prabha‘s reach and reputation—not to mention the deep pockets (and ambitions) of its owner in waiting, phone baron-turned-parliamentarian, Rajeev Chandrasekhar—tilted the balance.

Both Bhat and Chandrasekhar appear to be similarly politically aligned.

Bhat served as an officer on special duty to the former Union minister Ananth Kumar of the BJP, and Chandrasekhar, an independent MP elected with BJP support, has been seen with both Ananth Kumar and the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, on a “Friends of BJP” platform.

***

Bhat’s decision to join Kannada Prabha, however, shows that an official Times VPL internal circular, issued in the name of CEO Sunil Rajshekhar that said he was leaving Vijaya Karnataka to pursue “higher studies“, was merely for public consumption.

Kannada Prabha, which currently belongs to The New Indian Express group of Sonthalia, is set to come into the control of Rajeev Chandrasekhar by June this year.

Chandrasekhar had entered into a “strategic partnership alliance” with Express publications in March 2009, and picked up a minority stake. His stake in Kannada Prabha Publications (valued at Rs 250 crore) currently stands at 48%. The grapevine has it that he will obtain a majority controlling stake of 76% by June.

So far, the fight for the Kannada advertising pie has been between Vijaya Karnataka (average issue readership 34.25 lakh readers, IRS round 3) and No.2 Praja Vani (29.10 lakh readers) belonging to the Deccan Herald group. But the Bhat-Chandrasekhar combination at Kannada Prabha (11.15 lakh readers) is likely to muddy the scene.

Vijaya Karnataka is said to be mulling the launch of a Bangalore Mirror-style Kannada tabloid to be issued free with Vijaya Karnataka to blunt the Bhat effect at Kannada Prabha, and also to overcome recent circulation and readership losses to Praja Vani.

***

Bhat’s entry into Kannada Prabha is also poised create a ripple in Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s media stable.

Chandrasekhar already has a sizeable media presence in Karnataka through his Suvarna and Suvarna News channels. He had successfully wooed Kannada Prabha editor H.R. Ranganath to the Suvarna News camp at the expense of incumbent Shashidhar Bhat two years ago.

Ranganath came to Suvarna News with his band of print journalists under the belief that Rajeev Chandrasekhar would start his own newspaper. That plan first came unstuck with his purchase of a minority stake in KP.

Now, with the arrival of Vishweshwar Bhat and his own band of print journalists from VK, the former Kannada Prabha journalists in the Suvarna stable are in a dilemma about their future course of action. One of them, Ravi Hegde, is reported to have left Suvarna News and joined Udayavani as editor.

K. Shiva Subramanya, who took over from Ranganath as editor of Kannada Prabha, is reported to have indiciated his decision to leave Kannada Prabha, with the entry of Vishweshwar Bhat, even as Vijaya Karnataka looks around for a full-time Kannada editor.

Whether Bhat will also have a say in Suvarna News or not will be clear in June when both the channel and the newspaper come under a common owner, but it is more likely than not that Bhat will be projected as a face on Suvarna News, both to push Kannada Prabha as a paper and to lend the channel more journalistic gravitas.

The editorial-musical chairs in Bangalore had set the Kannada tabloids and blogs on fire over the last couple of months, with allegations, counter-allegations, innuendos and insinuations, all showing Kannada journalistic egos in very poor light.

Bhat’s resignation also resulted in an ugly war of words with his longtime friend, Ravi Belagere, editor of the popular Hi! Bangalore tabloid. Till recently fought from the shoulders of the former Vijaya Karnataka columnist Pratap Simha, the squabble has increasingly become personal, with Bhat reportedly even sending off a legal notice.

Pratap Simha welcomed Bhat’s decision on his blog thus:

“Our dear editor VISHWESHWAR BHAT has joined “KANNADA PRABHA” just now!! He is the man who gave different dimension to Kannada Journalism, he is the man who captured the imagination of us through his journalistic skills, he is the man who changed the way v all used to think, he is the man who made stars out of writers, he is the man who gave forum to nationalistic views which were unheard until his arrival. I have reason to believe that, his new innings will set new standards and new parameters in Kannada Journalism. Just WATCH OUT…”

Also read: ToI group editor in a flap over honorary doctorate

A blank editorial, a black editorial & a footnote

Is the management responsible for content too?

Is Vijaya Karnataka ready for a Dalit editor?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,523 other followers

%d bloggers like this: