YOUBIHAR: Are Indian newspapers agents of the Congress Party?

Shalu Sharma, a homemaker from Patna writes in YOUBIHAR, (http://www.youbihar.com) a social networking site dedicated to Bihari viewsissues and history of Bihar.

If you read news from major news channels such as Hindustan Times, Times of India, Tehelka you will be surprised to know how they manage to cover stories of the Congress Party. We know that Bofors is in the limelight again but you never hear about that in these newspapers. This is perhaps because these newspapers are sold to the Congress Party. None of the newspapers highlighted the Singhvi Sex CD Case. Some even went to the extent of saying that it was a private affair. All of the major newspapers of India and News channel are trying to cover all bad stories relating to the Congress party. Hindustan Times and Tehelka in particular seems to be publishing paid articles for the Congress party.

They are all bukwas. They have sold themselves to the Gandhi family. They are pimps. HT has cheap crappy articles with lots of errors. The editors are pimps nothing more nothing less.

Ragini Bhatia from Delhi adds a comment on Shalu’s posting:

Most Indian TV channel and newspapers have special journalists ready to take split the hair when it comes to what to report report and how especially for the present government. They are sold newspapers and not to be trusted. A few Indian agencies try to remain honest and impartial but I believe amongst the very few most of them have paid news. 

The purpose of YouBihar is to communicate with people in and outsideBihar, to facilitate easy access to her glorious heritage; and to track Bihari issues. This site as a Bihar social network is dedicated to Bihar’s supreme past and to addresses today’s Bihari issues.

Mumbai police, media have failed Jyotirmoy Dey

The confessed mastermind of the murder of crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey, whose June 2011 funeral is shown here, remains free. (AP/Rajanish Kakade)

By Madeline Earp/CPJ Senior Asia Research Associate

New Delhi-based Tehelka weekly news magazine has published a scathing indictment of the police investigation into the 2011 killing of Mumbai crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey–and of the Indian media‘s coverage of it. Beneath the allegations and the rumors, we still don’t know exactly why he was killed, while the self-confessed mastermind is a fugitive from justice. Meanwhile, a second journalist has been indicted for the crime on apparently flimsy evidence.

The plot thickens

On the face of it, Dey’s death in June 2011 was a classic case of a veteran reporter executed for digging too deeply into the subject he had covered exhaustively for 22 years: Mumbai’s criminal underbelly. But the investigation took an unexpected turn in November when police arrested Jigna Vora, the 37-year-old deputy bureau chief of Indian daily The Asian Age, claiming they had “strong evidence” implicating her in the murder, local news reports said. She denied wrongdoing, but more than three months later, she was indicted under organized crime laws for conspiring with mafia boss Chhota Rajan to kill Dey over a professional rivalry — a charge which carries a possible death penalty, according to the reports. Local journalists reported that Dey may have been involved with a rival gang, even travelling to London to share information about Rajan’s activities with an exiled don. Suddenly, the case didn’t seem quite so straightforward.

CPJ spoke with several Indian press freedom advocates as the investigation developed, but no one knew what to make of it. Had Dey been sucked into the mob rivalry he claimed to cover objectively, as the media was widely reporting? Had Jigna Vora really exchanged 36 phone calls with the fugitive gangster Rajan in the days before Dey’s murder, as police told local media?

The mafia calling the shots

Apparently not: Chhota Rajan himself planted both stories, according to Tehelka. The fugitive, who is wanted on multiple criminal counts, admitted to masterminding the hit on Dey in calls made in person to a series of Hindi-language TV stations. These PR exercises launched rumors about the journalist’s underworld connections overseas, which were supplemented by police interviews about Dey’s “mysterious tour” abroad — whichTehelka says was a simple vacation. Yet police and reporters accepted Rajan’s analysis with very few exceptions.

Rajan also told TV channels that Jigna Vora “instigated” the killing, according to Tehelka. Again, his account was barely contested. One Hindi-language TV station refused to run Rajan’s comments on grounds they were malicious, Tehelka reports. Police commissioner Himanshu Roy, on the other hand, repeated the story almost verbatim to The Times of India as recently as last month “There are transcripts of Rajan saying that he regretted killing Dey and it happened because Jigna instigated him.”

The February 21 charge sheet against Vora ran to 1,400 pages, but did not list the 36 calls between Vora and Rajan that journalists had unquestioningly reported. Only three calls were confirmed, all in reference to an interview Rajan gave The Asian Age, according to Tehelka. The professional rivalry at the heart of the motive, meanwhile, appeared to be based solely on conflicting stories the journalists had each penned on the same topic in one week in May 2011. And the transcripts of Rajan implicating Vora? Tehelkapublished the relevant extract: “You know that Jigna Vora…Jigna Vora used to say all the time that he (Dey) was in touch with them (the rival Dawood gang).” Meanwhile Vora remains in custody with deteriorating health, according to The Indian Express.

Let’s be clear about the implications of this report: In Tehelka’s analysis, the source for Dey’s and Vora’s alleged underworld involvement is Dey’s murderer. His account was apparently unchallenged by the majority of their colleagues and the police. Rajan, who is wanted by police for two decades, admitted to the crime on television, yet his victim and a suspect he implicated became the focus of the investigation.

The real truth?

Police officials and journalists have generated thousands of pages between them, but they have all failed J Dey. Besides Jigna Vora, another 10 suspects are on trial, but the man behind it all remains at large. And police have yet to discover whether it was Dey’s reporting that put him at risk.

Tehelka believes police ignored two early leads: Dey was investigating Rajan’s personal life, and had caused the reassignment of a Mumbai police officer after alleging he had links to organized crime. 

Ruhi Khan, a U.K.-based journalist who has written about the case for CPJ, believes theTehelka investigation paints a credible case that Dey was targeted for his work — or, at the very least, that the police have not done due diligence in investigating this angle. “The role of journalist Jigna Vora in Dey’s murder was always suspect,” she told CPJ by email. “This report definitely raises some serious doubts on the police theory.”

Geeta Seshu, who condemned the Indian media’s coverage of Jigna Vora back in December on the media watchdog website The Hoot, agreed. “As to whether Dey was targeted for his work, the police are simply not pursuing this course of investigation,” she told CPJ. “I’m still unclear why Dey was killed.”

CPJ has occasionally funded Tehelka reporting on press freedom issues with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.