By no stretch imagination, Barkha Dutt is an unbiased journalist. Her favoritism and connections with a particular party have been well-documented and are the stuff of legends. Another defining characteristic of her career has been her almost apologetic stance on terrorists operating in Kashmir valley. From her infamous report on the massacre of Kashmiri Pandits to her report on Burhan Wani, there has been the ‘soft touch’ in her reportage on such terrorists. In contrast to her soft touch to Islamist terrorists operating in the valley, Barkha Dutt had this to say about the victim of Congress’ ‘saffron terror’ narrative, Sadhvi Pragya, who has lost the use of her legs owing to the incessant physical torture she endured.
Barkha Dutt has stated, “Sorry but the media coverage of Pragya Thakur has been embarrassing. Yes she is a candidate (she shouldn’t be one) and a news story. But to normalise, then romanticise as if she were a rare species instead of a terror-accused really?”
Sorry but the media coverage of Pragya Thakur has been embarrassing. Yes she is a candidate (she shouldn't be one) and a news story. But to normalise, then romanticise as if she were a rare species instead of a terror-accused ? really?
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) April 23, 2019
Sadhvi Pragya though has been acquitted by the Supreme Court under the MCOCA and again by the NIA court; other fresh charges have been framed against her in a special court. The case hasn’t progressed further and Sadhvi Pragya has been granted bail, fit to contest the elections. However, whether she is guilty or not, doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that she has suffered gross human rights violations. Her basic constitutional rights were denied when she wasn’t allowed legal representation and was subjected to brain mapping tests, polygraph tests and narcotics tests without consent. She faced such physical abuse and torture that she was rendered a cripple, paralyzed from the waist down and even developed breast cancer. Had the extreme terrors been inflicted upon another person in judicial custody, the ‘neutral’ journalists with Barkha Dutt at the helm would have created a ruckus about the human rights violations. However, since the accused here was a Sadhavi, a person donned in saffron clothing, the individual has an issue about people speaking on her atrocities.
Barkha Dutt claims to be an atheist. She has stated, “I am agnostic and entirely non-religious; I do not self-identify with any religion and leave the required column blank in application forms.”This identity of hers should enable her to be neutral and have an equal stand against terrorism, irrespective of the religion but unfortunately, that is not the case. In an effort to be overly “liberal”, Dutt has gone and taken a discriminatory stand against the terror accused on the basis of their religion. She is always sympathetic with the Islamist terrorists, romanticizing their story and trying to portray them as victims, following the unfortunate path due to the society and circumstances. When the time came to extend the similar “liberal human rights” focused views to the victims of false Hindu terror, she conveniently takes an opposing stand.
Looking back at a few of her “neutral” reporting, the coverage on Burhan Wani, the commander of Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen had disgusted the nationalists. Instead of calling him out for who he was, a terrorist, killed for his terror activities, Barkha Dutt chose to romanticize him by calling him “son of school headmaster”.
Breaking: Burhan Wani hizbul commander, son of school headmaster who used social media as weapon of war, killed in Anantag. BIG STORY
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) July 8, 2016
If this is what Barkha Dutt means by a “neutral liberal journalist”, her vocabulary skills aren’t as good as she thinks them to be. Her stand seemed to be similar to Pakistan’s stand as they had treated Burhan Wani as a martyr, saluting him on their independence day by calling him a national hero.
Barkha Dutt seems to like the discontent in the valley and is keen on giving the state away to the hostile neighbor. The earliest evidence of this is when she chose to justify the brutal massacre of the Kashmiri Pundits. She stated, “Today victims, they were once the privileged elite of the valley. They may have been a minority but had monopolized government jobs, plum postings and other such social benefits. In fact, the sharp economic disparity between the pundits and the poor Muslim majority was one of the earliest reasons of discontent on the state.”
Barkha Dutt suggesting that Kashmiri Pandits were rightly massacred in 1990s pic.twitter.com/CHOVD3n54q
— Chayan Chatterjee (@Satyanewshi) November 10, 2018
The shamefulness of the remark is beyond any Indian’s imagination. Statistics have proved in depth how her stand on the “economic disparity” is a fabrication, irrespective of that her statement is deplorable. Kashmir was the only state in the country to have a Muslim majority. The way they treated the minority Hindus, massacring them, abusing them and raping them was heinous. Forget being a patriot, by this blatant justification she has people doubting her humanness as well. Emphasis on the term “poor Muslim majority”; never in one’s wildest dreams can one imagine the “neutral non-religious” journalist to say “poor Hindu majority”.
It would be wrong to say that everyone abhors and despises Barkha Dutt’s views on Kashmir and terrorism. A couple of years ago, Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed had in praised Barkha Dutt for taking a bold stand on Kashmir, in an interview to a Pakistani news channel. He stated, “India main Barkha Dutt jaisey log bhee maujood hain bohot acchey baat karneywaley bhee maujood hain (In India good journalists like Barkha Dutt are also present and there are many who make sense)”.
Hafiz Saeed happened to be the co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Islamist terror organization that has been banned by most countries worldwide. It has been alleged that he has been involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2006 Mumbai train bombings. A person need only have the awareness of a 6-year-old to understand the gravity and implications of this.
However, with the Sadhvi Pragya incident, she successfully portrays that how her human rights approach and understanding the victim’s side is not extended to all. For her, the victim in the situation depends upon their religion. A Muslim had to do despicable things because he had no other option to; whereas a Hindu (accused, not convicted), obviously has done everything that is being alleged and deserves the suffering. India, as democracy gives wide rights under the freedom to speech and expression, and yet there is a fine between those rights and being an anti-national. To portray herself a “liberal” and “free-spirited”, Barkha Dutt has time and again taken anti-nationalistic stands and now with Sadhvi Pragya incident, she wants to ironically adopt a firm hand against the terror accused.