Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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If Sunanda Pushkar’s death can be probed by TV anchors, why the silence on Justice Loya?

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The media should have come together and demanded a fresh inquiry into the mysterious death of judge Brijgopal Harkishen Loya.

The near-silence over a recent report about the mysterious death of a judge reminds me of Gandhi. When the three famous monkeys on Mahatma Gandhi’s table urged the visitors, “Don’t see evil, Don’t speak evil and Don’t hear evil” the message was rather simple. But most leading TV anchors and even newspaper editors have made the monkeys stand on their heads today. They do not see evil, do not report evil and do not hear evil!
They are selective, and call it “objective” journalism.

The chosen blinkers make our so-called free media resemble the North Korean or Chinese media. Interestingly, most of these anchors shout and shriek condemning those regimes for their dictatorships and oligarchies.

These anchors also loudly declare that India is a great country with total freedom of press, freedom of expression and freedom to elect or defeat ruling governments. It is democracy that distinguishes us from North Korea, Pakistan and China, they say with neo-patriotic spirit. But as George Orwell said more than 70 years ago, “Bully-worship, under various disguises has become universal religion.”

This “bully-worship” was evident last week. A magazine, Caravan, published a detailed investigative report about the mysterious death of a CBI judge, 48-year old Brijgopal Harkishen Loya in Nagpur, where he had gone to attend a marriage. The judge, at that time, was hearing one of the most controversial cases, involving the allegedly staged encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in 2005.

The prime accused was Amit Shah, then Gujarat’s minister of state for home. When Loya died, Shah was national president of the Bharatiya Janata Party and confidant of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Niranjan Takle, the investigative journalist, exposed a number of discrepancies in the post mortem, diagnosis, treatment given to a VIP patient, transfer of the body from one hospital to another, hospital reports, how the judge’s family was informed or misinformed, the rush to finish the last rites and a description of the body itself. The media should have come together and demanded an inquiry into the mysterious death. But the media instead chose to behave like those proverbial monkeys. (Except, of course, Ravish Kumar on NDTV Hindi, Sreenivasan Jain from NDTV 24×7 and a few others)

Many in the media defended neglecting this story in different ways: the story is three-years-old, it had an obvious political colour and it was done by another media house. These excuses were opportunistic and bogus.

That’s because the same celebrated anchors and editors had gone to town, night after night, to elaborately debate another mysterious death—that of Sunanda Pushkar. She too had died in mysterious circumstances on 17 January, 2014; eleven months before the judge. Therefore, the excuse that the story of the judge was three-years-old does not stand.

Similarly, Sunanda’s death too had political colour since Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s name was involved. So even the argument that judge Loya’s death had political undertones does not wash. And the same anchors and editors have routinely followed up on stories by others—from Bofors to Panama or the recent Paradise Papers.

If Tharoor can be attacked by the TV anchors and called a “murderer”; particularly by Arnab Goswami (even if the police does not say so), then why does the media suddenly develop cold feet to even demand a fresh probe in light of the Loya family’s revelations? The report published in the Caravan also alleges that another judge was assigned to offer Rs 100 crore to Loya to squash or conclude the case in favour of Shah. If the story has faults or shortcomings, it would fall flat on its own.

Indeed, the story would have died with the last rites for Judge Loya’s body, had it not been for Takle’s relentless inquiries. Not just the media, but even associations of lawyers and judges, as well as the so-called civil society movement is by and large silent. They were not as silent in the Aarushi or Jessica murder case.

In this context, it must be noted that the BJP has been very vociferous for long in its  demand for a probe into Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s death in 1968, when Congress was in power. But in his birth centenary year the BJP is quiet. It is also silent now about the “mysterious” death of Syama Prasad Mookerjee—about which they have campaigned for so long. They have raised these issues in Parliament several times when they were not in power.

All deaths are not equal after all. Some deaths require to be extinguished and some need to be dug out, to break the silence of the graveyard.

So the question is: itna sannata kyon hai bhai?

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  2. This is a dictatorship in a disguise and the press is shown both carrot and stick to fall in line.

  3. They are already doing that. Indian Express just came out with its own investigative story debunking Caravan’s article with its own facts.

    • And how IE has fallen flat on its face. That report in IE is incorrect & fraught with wrong dates and time. All one can say is well tried IE.

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