An open letter to Barkha Dutt

Hi Barkha,

 As an ex-fan of yours, I have some things (in a rather long post) to tell you. I need to tell you things as a friend, and also as a blogger. Unfortunately, within this last group you've suddenly made a lot of, shall we say, "extremely unfriendly people". You thought you were setting an example by stamping out irresponsible statements by individuals. Instead, you now discover that you've thrown a stone into a hornet's nest.

 First, let me tell you that I do not think you wanted to jeopardise the lives of anybody: be it the hostages in the Mumbai hotel or our jawans fighting at Kargil. Nobody, not one citizen of India would "want" to do this. Any such accusation is stupid. The fact that this happened (or at least so we believe) at Mumbai is a different matter. It is a matter of cut-throat competition among different TV channels, and being there at the site of live action and not broadcasting the stuff is simply not "practical". We know that. And yes, we know that there was no central point of contact from the government telling anybody (either the public, the policemen, much less the media) where to be or what to do. I give you the benefit of the doubt here, that you did not go looking for good news story no matter who dies or lives.

 I know that it hurts when you have been in the middle of action and gunfire at Kargil, bringing home the story of the brave soldiers, to be told that you were responsible for the death of some of them there. Again, I cannot verify if your reports actually compromised troop positions in Kargil. In case of Mumbai, not just your broadcast, but the broadcast from every TV channel was of equal bullshit irresponsibility. You aren't the prime people I hold responsible for the slip-up there, it is the government and their people with butts so fat that they don't need to shit for weeks together -- they are the ones I hold responsible.

 So while I understand your outrage at some random blogger who just happens to have a keyboard and an internet connection makes (baseless?) accusations about you, what I do not understand is how you made a mistake as stupid as sending all the legal wolves and troops to hound him down. I know you thought you'd set an example against anybody doing "irresponsible blogging", but in doing so you have become the same evil you set out to fight against.

 I have no doubt that you went into journalism and mass media with lofty ideals in mind. You wanted to bring the real story to people, you were passionate about what you were doing. Without that, one does not achieve the success and fame you did. You had become the ideal for a lot of young aspiring journalists, simply because you had the courage to do what many others did not. What happened, Barkha? Where did you lose yourself in the way? When did you become so insecure that you had to go squash anyone who dared to disagree.

 Disagreement, isn't that the core of the issue? That someone does not see things the way you do? Think about it, that is what you're doing as a journalist most of the time -- expressing yourself and the views of others in a way someone does not agree with all the time. That is investigative journalism, daring sting operations, exposing corrupt people, casting couches... you name it. And of course, the targets don't like it. But the people for those who you write, to them who you bring the news -- your joy has been in them liking your work, them liking the truth. And your greatest asset was in the "freedom of expression and free speech". So that even if a thousand black lies were told, you could still shine the white light, because you had the candle.

 There are always those who spread calumny without proof, abuse their power, or just bring up spicy stories to fill the page. But thats an occupational hazard. In the grander scale of things, the lies will be taken care of by the rest of the truth. "Satyameva Jayate", remember? Such "shoddy journalists" cannot go far: people know the wheat from the chaff. Some do shine the black light, without rhyme or reason. There are equally irresponsible journalists, people who cook up stories and interviews, people who use the badge saying "Media" to bend the rules, make or break careers, and write whatever they want. But the interesting point is, irrespective of right or wrong, every person who has ever been a target of such focus of candlelight believes that the light is black. Nobody will ever take the news that they're a villain very well.

 In this case, you were painted as the villain. And like everyone else, you thought it was purely negative light. Of course you never deserved it -- how could you? But you did exactly what those that you have been fighing against did -- went out and squashed one voice of dissent. You have used your power to kill just one among scores, wishing that such a thing should stop anybody from writing whatever they want on a blog. By setting this example, you wished to tell everyone that they should not express themselves without thinking, that expression needs to be reined in: one cannot just write whatever they want or say whatever they wish to. In short, you have asked everyone to not express themselves freely, and not to speak their mind. You, Barkha, have embraced the very reason every tyrant in history has found to justify his or her tyranny: for their own good, and to use unlimited power to bring order to the world.

 And guess what you have done? You have made a martyr out of him. You have suddenly brought forth solidarity amongst us bloggers against a common enemy. You have united a lot of us in defending what we hold dear: our freedom. And what is worse is that you've alienated a huge majority of educated India: people who were your greatest friends till some time back. You have set an example of what not to be, what happens when power goes into one's head. You have misused our trust and belief. And we, the democracy, who grant you power can also take you away. Where all will you run to stop a voice, how many leaks will you plug, how many lampoons will you silence, Hark DaButt? This is just the beginning. Ultimately, you will find that you have switched places with evil, and others will challenge you by saying, "The world will know that free men stood against a tyrant, that few stood against many, and before this battle was over, even a god-king can bleed". You, Barkha, have become the tyrant.

Comments

  1. the most level headed one I've read. Without the unnecessary use of bad language assumed to project aggression!

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  2. Well Said...

    NDTV gave Kunte a good publicity... Earlier just a few hundred (or thousand) might have read his post, now with NDTV making him immortal with its legal action, lakhs will read his blog and majority will agree with his views...

    NDTV might have won legally, but lost to "we, the people"

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  3. Agreed! She's been getting on my nerve lately...

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  4. Galadriel, wish they did :)

    Gradwolf, hey long time no see.. and thanks :)

    Renu, thank you, and welcome onboard!

    Shrinidhi, yes, well said yourself! They've lost to "we, the people".

    Tarun, welcome onboard! And thank you :)

    Mala, :)

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  5. You know what, that is a very thumping and probably a very 'un-pursue-able' post.
    Spread the word, this needs to be known. I came to know about this from here; there's no mention of it in the print or electronic media (other than the net) that I know of.

    So much for India.

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  6. As an old fan of Burkha too, I painfully agree to whatever you have said.. so sad!

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  7. Arunava, yeah I'll update the post with some links later on.

    Anoop, welcome onboard! And yes, so sad!

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  8. YOu deserve a standing ovation for writing this.
    Well done Sudipta !!

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  9. Mampi, thank you for the comment -- like I told you already, I'm honoured. :)

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  10. Barkha Dutt is not a God to be perfect...but kinda work she does is really appreciable...she always brings up something important and talks to the point. I like her...I consider her to be a responsible citizen. Some of your points may be correct but I refuse to accept that she is totally wrong :(

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  11. Madhuri, I do not mean that she is the devil, and I also really appreciate her work (even in some of the recent happenings afterwards). But this particular incident has removed the kind of profound respect I had for her: yes I too have lost a hero.

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  12. She is ugly face of journalism She is dreaming India under secular(Islamic)nation.We are all victim of her conspiracy.I agree Religion is not important compare to food shelter or education its not related but how we get foodshelter and education that religion teaches i.e. moral value you can criticise people of any religion but you cant criticise religion.You crossed that you converted good journalist into biased journalist.You did not know you have crossed the line.I proud to be hindu and I respect othes tooi.e means Mandir is not important to me as well as mosque too i.e. secularism I can understand for you your chanel flooded funds by Arabs and Pakistan allowed only channel to be aired in pak also I can understand your husbond is related to seperetists/terrorists in Kashmir.You must respect others and teach a moral lesson to BJP/VHP.Open yourselfe from secularism.It sounds like curse when you reffer

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  13. Anonymous, I am a little confused with your "rant" and think it was directed at Barkha Dutt rather than me. I'd let it remain, however - it is at a civil level of discussion. :)

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  14. Luv.ruchi18@gmail.com4:15 AM, August 19, 2011

    I believe a person has both positive and negative sides..barkha dutt is a brilliant reporter..m really inspired by her way of reporting...she might have done thngs wrong but she is an inspiration for hundred's of youths..I believe a person has both positive and negative sides..barkha dutt is a brilliant reporter..m really inspired by her way of reporting...she might have done thngs wrong but she is an inspiration for hundred's of youths..

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  15. Ruchi, welcome to the blog. Your typo is excused - you're welcome. I know people have good and bad sides. I am not bothered about her personal life. I had respect for her as a reporter. This incident removed that respect from my eyes. Like I said to Madhuri above, I too have lost a hero.

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  16. I agree fully.. As a kid she was always and inspiration!! Still she will be - but 'may be'!..There is a pinch while saying this!

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  17. Bubblegum, welcome to the blog! :) You are right - it always pinches when you think of what could be and what is.

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