Tehelka’s Reportage is losing credibility

via Dr. Vijaya Rajiva published on February 28, 2011

The trial court judgment on the Godhra massacre has made Tehelka’s reporters and journalists lose their sense of balance ( some critics would ask: did they ever have it at anytime? but the present writer is prepared to cut them some slack). Their response has been peculiar to say the least. Both Ashish Khetan and Shoma Choudhary admit that the horrific roasting alive of 59 Hindu pilgrims on the Sabarmati Express on Feb 27,2002 took place and that it was carried out by Muslim mobs.

What they are questioning is the court’s judgment that the heinous crime of roasting 59 people to death in the train compartment was a premeditated conspiracy. Thus, they are questioning the wisdom and competence of the legal system. Khetan’s lengthy, though not necessarily accurate account in Tehelka is beside the point, since he could
very well be doing a Teesta. There is nothing to prove or disprove whether he too had
bribed some of the witnesses and passed it off as ‘truth.’ (The reader who has some spare
time can look up his account but don’t hold your breath for any smoking gun).

The question that the present writer wishes to raise is not merely their refusal to accept
a court verdict when it goes against their own deep seated prejudices, but that they are
doing it as part of their seeming advocacy of the Muslim population. Witness what Shoma Chaudory said at the NDTV Program ‘ Has the Godhra verdict raised more Questions than answers ?’ (Feb.26,2011)

The horrific event occurred, she agrees, but saying that it is a premeditated massacre is
casting aspersions on one community, the Muslim community. Says Khetan in Tehelka:

“What happened to the Sabarmati Express on 27 Feb.2002 will always be a blot on the nation’s conscience. It deserves a fair but harsh retribution. There can be no arguing that. What is being argued is whether this was a horrific upsurge of mob anger or a premeditated conspiracy. That there was a conspiracy afoot in Gujarat in those years is undoubtable. But as this story shows, it was a conspiracy of a different kind. It
was a conspiracy designed to rent the fabric of this country: a conspiracy by State machinery to blacken one community’s name. And declare them the enemy.”

( ashish khetan ‘ Godhra Verdict, The Construction of a Lie’ 05 March 2011,Tehelka)

Are these two, Ashish and Shoma simply doing what discredited activist Teesta Setalwad is doing, namely pretending that she is advocating a minority community’s cause, when in actual fact she is creating disharmony and hatred between the two communities the Hindu and the Muslim ? In her case as in the case of Arundhati Roy the present writer believes that they do have an agenda. And both are reported to be generously funded by agencies outside the country for their agenda. It is not immediately evident that such is the case
with the Tehelka reporter and the journalist.

One could attribute it to their desire to be seen as being ‘liberal’ by advocating a minority community’s cause (never mind that in the process they hurt the other community’s feelings by their ill conceived premises). But perhaps it is more a reflection of their lack of historical perspective and understanding. Blaming a group of conspirators
from the Muslim community in Godhra does not necessarily mean blaming the entire Muslim community in India.

Is this typical liberal posturing ? If so, they are behind the times. The mood in Gujarat today, from all accounts, is that both communities have decided to put the past behind and participate actively in the prosperity and peace provided under the Modi government. And why assume, as they seem to be doing, that all Muslims in India disagree with the Godhra verdict ? Are they speaking out of turn ? Throughout India there are small groups of conspirators seeking to destroy the Indian body politic. In the state of Kerala, for instance , there are Muslim conspirators who are actually funded from dubious sources in the gulf countries and as well Saudi Arabia.

Does this mean that all Indian Muslims are to blame ? Not at all. And yet both journalists seem to assume that the Godhra verdict does just that. Why do they continue to apologise for a non existing situation ?

But ofcourse, if they don’t, then the two Tehelka people have lost their cause !

In the course of their reporting on Gujarat they have built up a deep reservoir of hostility to the Hindus of Gujarat. It is not particularly pertinent to ask whether they themselves are Hindus. Most likely they are the products of the post Independence, anti Hindu educational system and they bring this particular baggage to everything they do. The JNU historians also reserve a fair share of the blame. Their skewed writing of Indian history has almost permanently scarred the psysche of many post independence Hindus.

At the very least, it has induced a certain type of self flagellation. And then, ofcourse, there is the present corrupt Congress government’s wooing of the minority vote bank.Caught in this melee it is understandable that two relatively young journalists from Tehelka are trapped in a spiral of hatred (their own creation,like Teesta’s rants) that it will take some time to shed.The Muslim community in Gujarat wants to move on and share in the peace and prosperity of Modi’s competent governance of the state. It will take a bit of time for the two at Tehelka to wake up to the fact that 31 people have been convicted, by due processes of law. Time for ashish and Shoma to catch up to that.

But , ofcourse, they can ! And the sooner they do it, the better, both for themselves and for Bharat.

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

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