16, Jul 2021 | ANGANA CHAKRABARTI
The quiz asked readers to ‘connect’ 3 pictures — Bhima Koregaon victory pillar, Sudha Bharadwaj, and a Communist flag bearing the hammer & sickle — to a’person who recently passed away’.
Bengaluru: A group of activists and civil society members hit out at the English language daily Deccan Herald over a ‘prize-winning quiz’ that appeared in the newspaper’s Thursday edition.
The quiz, part of the ‘DH Visual Connect’ contest, which appears in the newspaper every day, drew “connection” between three pictures — the Bhima Koregaon victory pillar, activist Sudha Bharadwaj, and a Communist flag bearing the hammer and sickle.
“The Deccan Herald’s (DH) Visual Connect ad on the page is not just factually incorrect, but also in appalling taste…We are dismayed at the concept of making a game of a person’s death,” the letter, addressing acting CEO and Editor, Deccan Herald, Sitaraman Shankar, and the newspaper’s deputy editor, B.S. Arun, said while demanding that the contest be withdrawn and an apology issued.
The 95 signatories of the letter included social activist Harsh Mander, journalist Pamela Philipose, Teesta Setalvad of Citizens for Justice and Peace, JNU professor Ayesha Kidwai, and activist Kavita Krishnan, among others.
On Friday, the newspaper carried a note expressing regret.
“We understand that the July 15 edition of the DH Visual Connect reader engagement quiz, curated for us by a third party, has hurt the sentiments of a section of readers. This was clearly not the intention, and we regret any offense caused. Our readers are aware of our editorial positions on issues such as UAPA, human rights, and freedom of expression. We have consistently maintained that several activists have been denied constitutional and human rights and have demanded justice for them in our editorials,” the note said.
ThePrint reached Deccan Herald editor Sitaraman Shankar and deputy editor B.S. Arun via email for comment. The report will be updated when a response is received.
What the letter said
The letter by the civil groups and other individuals said it was “a shame that a newspaper of repute had to resort to making a prize-winning puzzle about a human rights activist, who was incarcerated and abused by a system that is being globally condemned for being draconian”.
The 15 July letter also sought to debunk the purported connections drawn between Swamy and Bharadwaj to the Communist Party.
“The usage of the Hammer and Sickle image by DH serves to connect every Left symbol with the bogey of ‘Maoism’ as defined by the State, and gives credence to the false allegations of association with banned ‘Maoist’ outfits against Sudha Bhardwaj and the late Fr. Stan Swamy,” it said, adding that the advert could also create misleading perceptions and affect the case against Bhima Koregaon activists.