‘ Praveen Swami not a reliable reporter ?’

published on January 11, 2013

The soft spoken Praveen Swami has been known for his detailed reportage. Whether this has always been reliable is now open to serious question. In The Hindu (Jan. 10, 2013) he has written an article which has some questionable elements in it (See ‘Runaway grandmother sparked savage skrimishes on LOC’ ).

After a brief survey of events leading upto the death of Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh and Lance Naik Hemraj and mutilated bodies of these two Indian soldiers (with one allegedly beheaded) which occurred on Jan. 6, at the Line of Control, Swami goes on to say that this beheading of a soldier has also been likely committed by Indian soldiers against the Pakistanis. Here are his own words :

” Last year, for example, there was fierce fighting in Karnah, some 140 kilometres from Srinagar after two Indian soldiers were beheaded in an attack on a forward position by a Border Action Team. Indian forces responded by targeting a Pakistani forward post,killing several soldiers and, by the account of one military official, which The Hindu could not corroborate independently, beheaded two.”

Now, what is wrong with this statement from Swami ? It is, in the opinion of the present writer, innuendo and slander of the Indian Army ( noted for its discipline and integrity) on the basis of UNCORROBORATED evidence. It is also an insult to the memory of the soldiers. Swami does not also indicate whether the military official who confided to him was Indian or Pakistani. Given the orientation of some of his reportage it could well be the latter.

He repeated this performance at a program on CNNIBN’s The Last Word ( Jan 10,2013)hosted by Karan Thapar.

The usually cautious Thapar seemed also to be carried away by his own rhetoric. The program was
titled ‘ Journalism or Jingoism ?’ By the end of the program Karan had almost persuaded himself that it was jingoism, not reporting !

Even the choice of panelists reflected this:

1. Ajai Shukla of The Business Standard who expressed pieties about how things happen during war (a brazen attempt to whitewash the event of Jan.6).

2. Praveen Swami who when asked by Karan Thapar whether he stood by his report, replied : Absolutely. He then went on to repeat some of the misreporting of his article in The Hindu.

3. Najam Sethi, Pakistani editor of Friday Times who went so far as to say that a noted TV anchor (Barkha Dutt of NDTV)told him that during the Kargil war that Indian soldiers had beheaded a Pakistani soldier in retaliation for the brutalisation of Indian soldiers . The source appears to have been a Nepalese one.

4. Vinod Mehta of Outlookindia.

The lone exception to this trashing of the heroic Indian jawan was Vinod Mehta of Outlookindia who candidly said that this was the first time he had heard of Indian soldiers beheading a Pakistani soldier. He also went on to ask who this Nepalese source was. The program was about to end and Karan dismissed him with some casual rejoinder and the audience did not hear any answer.

The general viewer/reader must also ask : why had the Pakistanis kept quiet about this alleged offence these long years ?

Mr. Praveen Swami, you owe it to the reader to provide authentic reports, and not irresponsibly mention something for which you have admitted that there is no INDEPENDENT corroborative evidence. And certainly The Hindu, which boasts of being the largest circulating English language newspaper should show some editorial over sight. This is slipshod reporting at best and at worst something else !

At any rate Mr. Swami , in my opinion, your soft spoken calumny and slander of the heroic jawans of the Indian army is noted.

As a reminder to you since you have quoted events from 2008 :

During the Kargil war Captain Saurabh Kalia and his five soldiers were captured by the Pakstani army and kept for 22 days before their mutilated and tortured bodies were handed over to India. A post mortem revealed the following: burning of bodies with cigarettes, piercing ear drums with hot rods, puncturing of eyes before being gouged out, breaking most of the teeth and bones, fractures of skull, cutting of the lips, chipping the nose, chopping of limbs and private organs and death by shot to the temple.

These atrocities were committed before death (ante mortem).

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university)

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