Gopikrishnan, We are proud of you

published on November 16, 2010

The man who felled a king
Chandan Mitra | New Delhi – The Pioneer Chief Editor

The Pioneer felicitates J Gopikrishnan, who unearthed the spectrum scam

For a long time, I did not even know that J Gopikrishnan was a stringer based in Thiruvananthapuram working for The Pioneer’s now-aborted Kochi edition. So when he came to Delhi pleading for a job at the headquarters once the Kochi edition shut in 2007, I was rather sceptical. I told Bureau chief Navin Upadhyay that although I had noticed a few bylined stories by him, Gopi had no exposure to Delhi and, therefore, was unlikely to have any worthwhile contacts here. Navin, however, persuaded me to try him out for three months. In fact, the letter of appointment specifically mentioned this along with a “stipend” that was truly laughable by Delhi standards.

Gopi did not break any earth-shaking stories during the trial period. But his sincerity, diligence, dogged pursuit of stories and pleasing personality made up for that. He was given a proper appointment letter after three months although his salary remained rather low. My opinion began to change after friends in Left parties began to mention him to me in Parliament’s Central Hall, pointing to the depth of his knowledge of the telecom sector. Officially, he was on the Left beat so I still did not attach too much significance to that.

Then the cascade began. Starting mid-2008, he broke one story after another on scandalous ramifications of the 2G spectrum allotment. The issue was complex and most people don’t understand its intricacies even now. But Gopi had cracked the scandal.

And as one exclusive report followed another, information flowed to him like a magnet attracting pins. Navin worked hard on these reports, filling up missing links, polishing them and quoting relevant documents. The 2G scam was Gopi’s passion and he scoured the Net, apart from visiting officers in their offices and homes, gathering material. He had friends across the political “spectrum”; Gopi, despite his Kerala origins, was ideology-neutral.

I don’t know how much pressure he came under and from which quarters. But I faced more pressure over these reports than anything else in my 27 years of journalism, of which nearly 20 have been spent in senior editorial positions. I am proud to have withstood them. But even more proud that I gave a dynamic young man from Kerala a break in the national media, a break he used to do the nation a sterling service. J Gopikrishnan has made history and The Pioneer basks in his achievement.

The Pioneer Investigative Team asked Gopi to unravel his journey from a fledgling political reporter to giant killer. Read Excerpts from a chat here

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