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?

14 Responses to “Anti-minority bias behind foiled bid on journos?”

  1. VOXINDICA Says:

    Didn’t understand your headline. Where is the “Anti-minority bias” in all this? Except that ‘The Hindu’, true to form did a somersault after reporting the truth. Is it your case that journalists or for that matter, members of ‘a certain community’ should be shielded from the due processes of the law? And if they are not shielded, then it contravenes the ‘secular’ principles of this nation?

  2. VOXINDICA Says:

    I would like to make a correction in my earlier comment: “‘The Hindu’, true to form did a somersault after exhibiting its bias.” This it reportedly did after being threatened with a libel suit. But my question stands. Your headline speaks of your ‘pseudo-secular bias’ and amounts to disinformation. Where is the question of ‘Anti-minority bias’ in the reporting of the Kannada press?

    • Sam Says:

      Why is it important that the newspaper the Journalist worked for, be named? Are you suggesting that whole newspaper may have been run by a terrorist organization?

      ***

      Look at the larger picture – the real news is that the Karnataka BJP’s Election Campaign has begin. (That’s the context of the ‘anti-minority’ bias … )

      It’s circlejerk all over again … Narendra Modi had some “muslim terrorists” trying to kill him during his previous election year, and now Karnataka BJP is under attack as another election approaches … Everybody knows the Sangh-BJP only remembers its ‘Hindu Pride’ when the elections arrive. (Especially when they need an emotional issue to divert the attention of the public from the fact that the BJP is useless when it comes to governance.)

      That’s why the Karnataka minister ‘promises’ north-indian that they are safe and ‘no muslim will harm them’ if they come back. And then when they do start coming back, the Karnataka ABVP (the ‘student’ wing of the fundamentalist Hindutva organization, the RSS-BJP) goes on a rampage in Bangalore and attacks these poor workers from West Bengal, Orissa, Rajasthan, Bihar and other north-eastern Indians by calling them ‘Bangladesi Muslims’. The sad irony – most of these workers beaten up weren’t even Muslims, but Hindus and others. ( http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/article3842386.ece )

      We shouldn’t be surprised – like the Jihadis, these Hindutva fundamentalists too rely on paid goondas and mentally unbalanced people who just like violence and a way to make easy money … What’s in it for them to care about their victims religious belief?

      They are attacking the weak and the innocent, and they are stupid enough to believe that we ‘fools’ will ‘realize’ their ‘wisdom’ and accept it is the true path to salvation to make ‘our’ religion more holy …

      It’s chilling the way the RSS-BJP has perfected this ‘art’ of attacking uneducated, frightened indians for publicity and also looting them to fund their election campaigns.

  3. Ritesh Says:

    What do you mean by “anti-minority” bias? Brahmins are a minority within Hinduism; that did not deter newspapers and blogs like yours from publishing articles which deride their traditions; so why does this question come up whenever the community is Muslim? Criminals have no religion; sadly the media in India today still carries on its politically correct discourse in the name of “secularism”. Such secularism might end up becoming the bane of India.

  4. Curry Hurry Says:

    It should have been obvious to the folks complaining where the blog owner’s ideology leans. His attacks on Bhyrappa, defense of terrorists, attacks on Ramdev, defense of Janpath Royalty…

  5. Mahendra Says:

    If some misguided fundamentalites done this i did not surprise but a journalist wanted to killing another journalist because for his rightwing views it is shocking and more shocking is the title of the article.

  6. Andy Says:

    Few observations i noticed : 1. The Hindu was the only paper that named Deccan Herald as the organisation that suspect worked for. They did it twice – on the day and a day before the arrest. 2. Udayavani ran a headline with mention of Bhat, Simha and Sankeshwar as terrorist targets. 3. Deccan Chronicle today carried an interview of Simha and a quote of Bhat. And is done as a routine, DNA, TOI, MIrror or DC DID NOT mention that arrested journalist who worked for a English daily did not belong to their newspaper.

    • Andy Says:

      Sam: I think you thinking too hard and trying too hard to interpret things. I am not suggesting anything – just shared some facts which i observed as a reader. Its for you and other bloggers to analyse / comment on them – if you think its worthwhile.

      Thank you.

    • Sam Says:

      @Andy: I am not suggesting anything – just shared some facts which i observed

      I got that. What I didn’t understand was what did you feel was important about this? Just trying to understand what you were trying to communicate … (In hindsight, my second question could have been worded better to not appear as If I was trying to provoke you.)

  7. Bookreader Says:

    The clarification given by “The Hindu” is strange. When a story was going to the Front Page, no less, did no one bother to check the story at all. After all it was a major story. How and why did the gatekeeping mechanism fail?

  8. mediathug Says:

    I find it amusing that some people still expect ‘The Hindu’ to be fair & impartial. Read the editor’s clarification (cited above) . It is a grudging, half-hearted admission of a ‘mistake’. That too, when threatened with a libel suit.
    This is precisely what happens when the ‘gatekeeping mechanisms’ are manned by Marxists & Islamists.

    Remember, in April 2010, before the marriage of Sania Mirza, The Hindu published a Hyderabad datelined report ‘editorialising’ Sania for moving around with her husband-to-be before marriage. “Traditional Muslims are shocked”, The HIndu complained. Evidently, Sania ignored the report. There was no blame on the ‘gatekeeping mechanisms’, then. In any quality newspaper, the reporter might have lost his job for such a ‘shocking’ report. But Iftikar, the ‘shocked’ reporter, is still on the prowl in Hyderabad for The HIndu.

    Some weeks ago, when the IRS Q1 2012 report was out, Siddharth Varadarajan wrote a signed letter on front page thanking readers for their ‘continued support’. The Hindu’s readership had grown during the quarter, he claimed. But what was the truth? The Hindu’s readership showed a marginal decline, said independent media sites. What more do you expect from a newspaper and its editor, who would tell lies about even such easily verifiable matters?

  9. Mysore Peshva Says:

    Is your headline trying to justify the murder plots?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: