Harsha Perla
Hate Filled Article of Tehelka – Scary Distortion of Journalism Values
This article originally appeared in centreright.in. CRI content has now been subsumed in swarajyamag.com. The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of swarajyamag.com

Recently a story titled Hindutva Lab 2.0 appeared in Tehelka.

For those of you, who have not read it; please feel free to indulge in the exercise. However, you are cautioned against taking the content seriously. Why not? The write-up reflects the frustration of Tehelka when a nationalist movement garners momentum. The article also reflects another aspect – desperate  bid to create sheer sensation. Use of phrases like “scary distortion of an entire society ” will vouch for both.

When you write about an organization or a group, it is a common journalistic practice to talk to people who are members of that organisation and take into consideration their views. I wonder if Tehelka ever did this. During the journalist’s supposed journey through Karnataka, spending a week journeying from urbane Bengaluru to northern and coastal Karnataka, did he meet any person from RSS/BJP? If he has, why has the journalist in charge not quoted their views in his article ? The writers seems to have had his own ideas about what is to appear in the piece rather than writing on observed facts.

The piece is filled with factual errors and anomalies. This automatically provokes the question – who could be Tehelka’s source of information and views ? The said piece quotes individuals like Shiv Sundar to support it’s narrative. Shiv Sundar, according to them is  “one of the most clear-headed observers in the state“[sic]. Is he the same Shiv Sundar, who has earned his fame through the tabloid- Lankesh Patrike ? Seems to be.  To learn more about Lankesh Patrike  ask any Kannadiga for their views on the tabloid. They also quote an interview with Mahendra Kumar – an erstwhile member of the Sangh who later defected to JD(S) to support their claims. Somebody who leaves a political organization and joins his erstwhile rivals is naturally expected to make accusations on his previous party.

Now, a look at samples of factual lies that are being propagated:

Tehelka says : Hindu Shakti Sangama stands canceled because of porngate.

Fact : Hindu Shakti Sangama was intended to be held for 3 days on 27, 28 & 29 January. The ‘porngate’ episode happened on 7 February.

Tehelka says : Chudamani Aiyyar is the editor of Hosadigantha

Fact : There is nobody with this name working for the newspaper. Group Editor is Shivasubrahmanya, Editor is DG Laxman. Since when have fictitious characters assumed positions in official posts?

Tehelka says : Masood’s fault was condemning Bhatt’s statement.

Fact : The case registered against Masood was upsetting the peace that prevailed in thr region by twisting the statements of Bhatt.

Tehelka says : Karavali Ale was Karnataka’s most popular newspaper:

Fact : Evening newspapers are limited to coastal regions of Karnataka. This paper does not even figure in the list of top 10 ABCs of Karnataka.

Tehelka also reports – “They go around shouting ‘Pehle qasaai, phir Isaai’ — First butchers (Muslims), then Christians.” [sic].The world around knows that inhabitants of Karnataka converse in Kannada. Less that 1% would expect Hindi slogans being raised here. If translation was his intention, I’m surprised why the writer took pains to convey it in Hindi and then in English. As already pointed out, the unmistakable feature of this Tehelka piece is the selective and one-sided account of events. This can be best observed here :

  1. Tehelka’s journalist has made a reference to the withdrawal of cases against a member of Sangh Parivar. Why not mention the withdrawal of 23 cases against Christians related to a ‘church attack’?
  2. Tehelka asserts that “State favours and funds are being directed towards Sangh affiliates. In November 2011, Yeddyurappa gave land in Bengaluru worth Rs 50 crore to six frontal bodies of the Sangh Parivar.” [sic]. Once again Tehelka conveniently ignores the amount of money and resources spent by the same govt on Minority welfare.  The Hindu reports here that the state government has begun work on a Hajj Garh in Bengaluru at the cost of 40 crores. Hindu also reports that the Minority welfare ministry was allocated an additional sum of 120 crores by the same government. How come such details always seem to escape the “investigative” eyes of Tehelka ?

The Tehelka report openly accuses the Kannada daily Vijaya Karnataka for promoting the idea of Muslims and Christians as “members of other religions”. We humbly request Tehelka or the journalist responsible for this piece to furnish proofs in support of this accusation. Every Kannada reader is aware that the editor of Vijaya Karnataka (owned by the ‘Times’ group) openly says he is against RSS ideology. What Tehelka does here is just a hit-and-run job, instead of constructing Vijaya Karnataka as a target why doesn’t Tehelka really go after the paper’s real owners ? Or is Tehelka’s daring approach only limited baiting vernacular language newspapers while giving a go-by to their real owners and other associated English language media houses ?

All in all with this piece the left-liberal commentary in this nation has taken one more tumble into the abyss of darkness and propaganda. It also reveals the complete erosion of professionalism among many a journalists who would go to any extent to forward someone else’s agenda even at the cost of truth.