Posts Tagged ‘Subir Bhaumik’

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.

***

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

BBC journalists secure abducted cop’s release

23 October 2009

BBC News_Subir Bhaumik_23012009

It’s one of journalism’s oldest questions: should journalists in the line of duty play a part in unfolding news events?

Should they be the eyes and ears of their audience at all times, as expected of their profession, regardless of the situation? Or, are there occasions when exceptions can be made like, say, a life at risk?

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta, MD, while reporting from Iraq in 2003, conducted an emergency brain surgery on an Iraqi boy. Yesterday, in West Bengal, two senior BBC journalists helped broker a compromise between the State government and Maoists, leading to the safe release of an abducted police officer.

The policeman had been kidnapped after a raid on the police office three days earlier and held him hostage demanding the release of 14 tribal women.

According to a report in The Times of India, the BBC journos stepped in and acted as “facilitators and served as a bridge between the rebels and the government” when the leader of the Maoists Koteshwara Rao alias Kishenji, refused to deal directly with State officials.

“Initially, the government was a bit confused. On Wednesday morning, they sought our help. Having worked in the North-East for several years, I have been involved in facilitating several such hostage negotiations. We wanted to start a dialogue immediately but couldn’t since we needed at least one government official to participate but there was none,” the BBC’s veteran eastern India correspondent Subir Bhaumik is quoted as saying.

Subir Bhaumik later reported the story of the policeman’s release for the BBC without mentioning the role played by him in it. All’s well that ends well, of course, but what if the journalists had been caught in the crossfire between the Maoists and the State police?

There is also a strange irony in the involvement of journalists to secure the policeman’s release from the grip of Maoists. In late September, a top Maoist leader Chattradhar Mahato had been nabbed by police who were dressed up as journalists of a Singapore TV station. The impersonation had led to an outcry among journalists.

Photograph: courtesy Subir Bhaumik

Read the full reportJournalists brokered cop’s release

Also read: Dressing up (and dressing down) as journalists

Michael Moore takes on Sanjay Gupta of CNN

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