It’s that time of the year when a bunch of self-entitled Indian journalists appear out of their cocoons and cry about being journalists in a country called India. Leading the charge once again is Ravish Kumar, a journalist working for a media outlet facing charges of tax evasion.
It so happened that Ravish Kumar was driving with his earphones on and simultaneously fidgeting with his phone. A responsible citizen captured shots of Ravish Kumar’s behaviour and posted the same on social media. This was enough for Ravish Kumar to claim that he is a victim of state surveillance and spying, because the state clearly has no other important job to do. Ravish Kumar then exhibited his technological understanding and claimed that the government was freezing the telecast of NDTV when he was live. Parallel to Ravish Kumar, Rana Ayuub claimed that she was on the receiving end of death threats. Hence, a prime-time debate, anchored by Ravish Kumar was telecast on NDTV India, because of course, a debate would work wonders in solving the problem. Approaching the police and taking the help of law enforcing agencies probably was a boring idea for Ravish and Rana.
Reprehensible. Threats of any kind being given to journalists in any democratic nation is simply reprehensible and must be condemned. Threats are given by individuals who lack the ability to indulge in constructive debate and by people who do not have facts to counter the other side. Reprehensible also, is the silence of the same journalists when it comes to threats being given to their own colleagues in the fraternity. The selective outrage is there for all of us to witness.
In the month of April alone, an estimated of 70 journalists were attacked in West Bengal by TMC goons. The top brass of journalists in India woke up in mid-May to this crisis and had very subtle words of condemnation at their disposal. Rajdeep said it was ‘deeply troubling’. Faye D Souza called it a ‘mess’. Of course, journalists being harassed is merely a mess. Pallavi Ghosh said this violence was ‘not good at all’. Rana Ayuub and Sagarika thought it to be best to stay mum and let things cool down.
For a valid question asked by Rohit Sardana last year, he was hounded by protesters who got offended by his tweet. The preachers of free speech fell silent at that given point of time as well. As I said, outrage must be portrayed only when it suits a certain narrative. Attacks on journalists not towing the liberal facade need not be condemned.
When Zee News journalists were bashed by congress goons and when Republic TV reporters were harassed at pressers, told in Court premises that they would be ‘fixed’, the group of elite journalists almost indicated that these individuals deserved to be treated in that manner.
Have you heard about any condemnation, protest, press club meetings for Rajdev Ranjan, Jagendra Singh, Sandeep Kothari, Sanjay Pathak, Hemant Yadav, Karun Misra, Santanu Bhowmick, Sudip Datta and Navin Nishchal? Of course you haven’t. The only name everyone is concerned about is Gauri Lankesh. The mentioned journalists were all murdered for doing their job. They didn’t make it to any twitter timelines because their deaths served no purpose to hound the BJP. No prime-time debates were conducted and no open letters were sent to PM Modi . Such is the hypocrisy of the Indian media.
The often neglected lot of journalists are those who have a centre-right ideology. These journalists too get hounded on social media. None of the mainstream left-leaning journalists bat an eye to their plight. Press Club and Editor’s Guild meet and sermonize only when the conditions are right to take potshots at the BJP and insult the supposedly fascist nation we have become.
It is best to lay aside ideological differences in such times and work unanimously to make social media a safer place for all. How can this be achieved though, when the other side thinks it best to remain a bystander when threats are given to people who don’t have the same ideology as them?