Citizens for Justice and Peace

Poor Tokenism — Response to Reuters on Narendra Modi Interview 

13, Jul 2013


July 13, 2013

— Response to Reuters on Narendra Modi Interview 

Seven days before
Reuters published its exclusive, a privilege denied by PM aspirant
to an Indian news agency or channel, we had been contacted
persistently by a Reuters correspondent while I was in New Delhi
(July 5).

Not Ross Colvin or
Sruthi Gottipati who now carry the journalistic honour of grabbing
moments with a man who rarely likes to be questioned, especially if
the questions are persistent like say those of Karan Thapar in 2007.
Thapar keen to get to the bottom of what Modi actually felt about
2002, did not  simply casually record –as Reuters has done – ModiÂ’s
response but asked, insistently, whether Modi actually regretted the
mass reprisal killings that had taken place, post Godhra, on his
watch. Modi simpered, dithered, glared and admonishedÂ…when none of
that worked, and Thapar persisted, Modi did what he does best. He
walked out.

Not so with
Reuters, that managed its exclusive but failed to, conspicuously,
persist with any accurate, difficult or pinching questions.

The young man from
Reuters who finally tracked me down in the Sahmat office at 29
Ferozeshah Road last week was clueless, he said, about Gujarat 2002.
Apologetic about this ineptness, he kept saying that his bosses had
asked him to track down the SIT report. They had not bothered to
contact us directly.

We insisted that
he, read Reuters,  do what fair journalism demands, look at the SIT
Clean Chit in context; examine also the Amicus Curaie Raju
RamachandranÂ’s report that conflicted seriously with the SIT Closure
and Clean Chit (opining that there was material to prosecute
Narendra Modi on serious charges).

Both the SIT and
the Amicus were appointed by the same Supreme Court. We insisted
that Reuters examine the Supreme Court Order of 12.9.2011 that gave
us the inalienable right to file a Protest Petition, we pointed out
that Reuters must read the Protest Petition itself that we
filed in pursuance of this order on 15.4.2013, peruse the arguments
that we have been making before the Magistrate since June 25, 2013.

We tried, as best
as we could,  to communicate that Reuters should read the SIT Clean
Chit in the context of these overall developments.

No, No said Reuters
that had possibly already bagged the interview by then.

Who says a
politically important interview should address all developments and
facts, in a nutshell, tell the whole and complete story? Much better
to perform a tokenism, throw in a few questions about 2002, not
persist with questioning the man charged with conspiracy to commit
mass murder and subvert criminal justice with the complexities and
gravity of charges and legal procedures that he currently faces –
and which are being argued in Open Court in Ahmedabad. Easier to be
glib, grab headlines in all national dailies including by the way
the one in Telegraph which is the only newspaper to report
that Modi used “kutte ke bacche” not puppy as an analogy for which
creatures may inadvertently get crushed when a “road accident
happens.” Never mind that many have been convicted for criminal
negligence when they drive and kill.

On business and
development, too, while Reuters plugs the man themselves in the
first paragraph of the interview, there are no real probing
questions on Foreign Direct Investment, the Gujarat governmentÂ’s
back out to solar power companies (reported two days ago in the
Economic Times) and so onÂ….

So quite apart from
the more than despicable “kutte ke bacche” comment that Modi
reportedly made, quite apart from the fact that he chose Reuters for
his debutante mutterings not a national agency or channel, what is
truly tragic about the whole exercise is the compliant journalism
that it reflects.

The Reuters
interview is not a dispassionate or thorough exercise that attempts
to genuinely probe opinions and views. It is a sensational tokenism.

Teesta Setalvad,
secretary Citizens for Justice and Peace

Narendra Modi’s rum away from studio during interview
by Karan



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