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Posts Tagged ‘Amit Shah

Barkha Dutt of NDTV interviewed P Chidambaram, who was Minister of Home and Finance in the Manmohan Singh government and a member of Cabinet Committee of Security. The interview was to be aired on NDTV in the evening of October 6 and extracts of the interview were played on the channel throughout the day. Suddenly, NDTV decided not to telecast the interview because Chidambaram was critical of the Modi government’s handling of the surgical strikes by the Indian army across the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir.

The same evening, NDTV’s editorial director Sonia Singh told NDTV’s journalists throughout the country about the channel’s ‘new editorial policy’ which, in nutshell, was that ‘we have decided we will not give space to the bizarre political bickering that has broken out on surgical strikes…’

In an elaborate article in ‘The Wire’, Siddharth Varadarajan says that according to the extracts played out by the channel, Chidambaram had only criticised statements of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made after the surgical strikes. Varadarajan says that dropping Chidambaram’s interview wasn’t the only act of censorship at the channel that day. Editors were instructed that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s statement in Uttar Pradesh about Modi trading in the blood of Indian soldiers was not to be run on the channel either.

The sorry state of the media under the Modi-Shah dispensation is fully explained by the questions ‘The Wire’ sent to Co-Founder and Chairperson of NDTV Radhika Roy and Sonia Singh. Varadarajan says that in her reply, Radhika Roy provided only a general explanation of NDTV’s policy, but did not answer specific questions, especially those on Chidambaram, Rahul Gandhi, Manohar Parrikar and Amit Shah. Some of the questions were:

*What prompted NDTV to announce a new editorial policy as mentioned in its message ‘India above Politics’?

*Was it true that the decision to not air Rahul Gandhi’s (statement) was taken pursuant to the new editorial policy?

*Extracts of P. Chidambaram’s interview to Barkha Dutt were played during the day on October 6 but the full interview was finally never broadcast. Is it true that the decision was taken in keeping with NDTV’s new editorial policy? Was Chidambaram saying things that compromise national security?

*Doesn’t NDTV’s refusal to telecast statements by a former home minister or by the leader of the main opposition party amount to censorship of the news on your part?

*Contrary to your stated policy of not encouraging politics and political debate to compromise national security, NDTV showed BJP leader Amit Shah’s press conference today live. Is this because, in your channel’s view, his remarks do not constitute a politicisation of the surgical strikes, and of national security?

*Raksha mantri Manohar Parrikar recently made a statement about how the Indian army realised its strength only after the current government came to power: “Indian troops were like Hanuman who did not quite know their prowess before the surgical strikes,” Parrikar said. In your view, is this an example of political debate that does not threaten to compromise national security?

*Will criticism of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or the use of pellet guns against civilians by the security forces in Kashmir, be allowed on NDTV in the future?

‘Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up’ gives a succinct account of the Machiavellian ways of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in the words of top IPS and IAS officers who were at the helm of affairs during the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. Amit Shah, as Minister of State for Home, comes out as more of a bully. The 204-page book is authored by Rana Ayyub, then with Tehelka magazine but now working independently.

These officers spoke more or less candidly about the riots and fake encounters as they were under the impression that they were not talking to a journalist but to a young lady who was making a film on Gujarat for some American company. Rana had donned the identity of a film maker from America in 2010 with the help of a former colleague who had joined the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles. She spent some time studying the work of the Conservatory, changed her persona to the extent possible and assumed the name of Maithili Tyagi from Kanpur, and equipped herself with spy cameras — one fitted in her watch, another in her notebook and a third one in one of her kurtas. With the approval of her editors in Tehelka, she was now ready to descend on the unsuspecting bureaucrats in Gujarat.

Some of these officers willingly did what Chief Minister Modi expected them to do – eliminate those pointed out by Modi and Shah and/or turn a blind eye to the mayhem of Muslims by VHP activists. They were duly rewarded. Those who had suffered pangs of conscience and displayed reservations about carrying out the wishes of Modi and Shah had to suffer one way or the other.

Rana says Narendra Modi and Pravin Togadia were once synonymous with the growth of Hindutva in Gujarat. They used to attend RSS shakhas together in the same state. Togadia was a cancer surgeon who joined the VHP in 1983 and Modi, a full time Pracharak, was inducted into the BJP in 1984. When Keshubhai Patel was Chief Minister, both were in the core committee which took important decisions for the government.

From 1995 to 2001 when Modi was almost exiled from the state, he would spend most of his time in the VHP office as opposed to the BJP office where he was no longer welcome. Rana quotes reports to say that it was Lal Krishna Advani who convinced Togadia to bring Modi to Gujarat as Chief Minister in October 2001. Togadia agreed to the change and got his right-hand man Gordhan Zadaphia inducted as Minister of State for Home. Togadia had substantial say in postings of officers, many of whom played a dubious role in the post-Godhra riots in February-march 2002 when the VHP and Bajrang Dal cadres unleashed a wave of terror in the state. Modi later freed himself from the Togadia stranglehold. He brought Amit Shah in place of Gordhan Zadaphia as Minister of State for Home.

Modi would ensure that he was not directly connected with any criminal activity. As Ashok Narayan, who was Home Secretary at the time of the riots, told Rana, Modi would never say ‘go slow’ on controlling the riots. He would also never write anything on paper. He had his people and through them the VHP and then through them it would trickle down through informal channels to the lower rung police inspectors.

Amit Shah, for that matter, was less circumspect. That could be the reason that he got arrested for ordering fake encounters.

In the eight months that it took Rana Ayyub to complete her task, something had changed in Tehelka and it refused to publish her story. Hence this book.

July 2017
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Value of propaganda

Adolf Hitler believed in the use of propaganda as an integral element to seizing and holding on to political power. His maxim was 'the bigger the lie, the more easily it will be believed, provided it is repeated vigorously and often enough'. (Sean Murphy in his book 'Letting the Side Down')

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