In the Indian Express magazine Eye, Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui, the Deccan Herald reporter-cum-sub-editor who was arrested and jailed for six months on the charge of being involved in an alleged plot to kill a right-leaning editor and columnist, before being let off, recounts the discrimination he faced.
Siddiqui also dwells on how he was treated by the police in BJP-ruled Karnataka despite being a newspaper employee, and how the rest of the media treated one of their own after swallowing police “bullshit”.
# My first night in the cell was the longest night of my life. We kept pleading with the cops to not destroy our lives. During our 30 days in police custody, the cops abused us in every way they could. One policeman asked me, “So, you work for a Pakistani newspaper?”
# Even before I could get over the police hostilities I had endured, I was told about the the media onslaught during my time in jail. I had been dubbed the “mastermind” of the plot. Some of my former colleagues told me that a senior police officer, who was not even investigating the case, misled journalists that I had joined Deccan Herald with the sole purpose of blowing up the Metro station opposite my office. The media blindly, mindlessly, reproduced his words.
# Similarly, going by the police’s words, the media said “radical literature” was seized from my office computer. That computer had an Urdu poem about Republic Day, written by Sahir Ludhianvi, a Leftist ideologue, who was part of the Progressive Writer’s Association.
# A news channel “broke” the story about my father in Pakistan who “guided” me from there. My father died of a heart attack in 2006. I even have his death certificate. Can you imagine how it feels to deal with such bulls**t?
# Another news channel said I had Rs 50 crore in my bank. If I had so much money, I would certainly have owned a newspaper.
# The media has reacted in the extreme to me — extremely cruel when I was arrested, and now, extraordinarily supportive after my release. I am inundated with phone calls from journalists, asking for my side of the story. Even though I am disillusioned by the media, I have not lost faith in it. That faith comes from some truly fair reporting, specially in the print media. I want to return to work as a journalist.
# Journalism has always been close to my heart. But, I have become sceptical of reportage. I will always think twice before trusting a news story. I want to work on the desk and ensure the accuracy of a story.
Photograph: courtest Jyothy Karat
Read the full article: ‘I was discriminated against as I was a Muslim’