World of India!: EditorsEdit :Satyendranath Dubey case- did the Indian Express get it all wrong? e

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EditorsEdit :Satyendranath Dubey case- did the Indian Express get it all wrong?

Although, I personally like the Indian Express and its street fighting instincts, in terms of picking up issues which are of concern to us as a nation, broadcasting them and continuing to ask probing questions to those in authority- this job can really be a minefield. Often a newspaper has to make a choice whether to publicize and form public opinion, based on facts as they are available at that point in time. Once an editorial stance is taken based on those facts, the die is cast. It can be extremely embarrassing for a newspaper later on to learn later, that the facts of the matter have changed and its earlier editorial stance was completely wrong.

Take for instance, the case which involved the head priest of the Sabarimala shrine (read a prior post on this issue:, who was implicated in a case of sexual mis-conduct and who was widely reviled across the media. It was subsequently found that he had been framed, at least in this particular case. I did not hear any of the media house who had given wide publicity to the case, apologizing for their earlier slanted reports.

Or take the latest events in the Satyendranath Dubey murder trial. For those who came in late, here’s an excerpt from an earlier Indian Express, to get the dope of the matter :

"The Indian Express had first highlighted the case of Dubey, National Highways Authority of India project manager, who was killed on November 27, 2003 in Gaya. Investigations had revealed that Dubey had written to the Prime Minister’s Office complaining of corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral project. However, the CBI charge sheet filed on September 3, 2004 against the four accused said Dubey was murdered after he resisted a robbery attempt."

Note the 'However" in the above report, which tries to convey that the CBI had got it wrong by omission or commission. The Express had went to make a big hullabaloo about the entire Dubey episode, accusing cover up, demanding justice for Dubey and so on and so forth. The Express has always had a soft spot for IIT's, IIM's and their graduates and one of the grouses I have is the dis-proportionate coverage it allocates to these institutions. The fact that Dubey was an IIT graduate allowed The Express to slant the story in the 'India's middle class honest and brilliant' being wronged by the corrupt mafia of U.P,Bihar mode. The Express persisted with reporting this issue in such a biased manner, that the Government, under pressure, set up a CBI enquiry.
The CBI has now deposed before the Supreme court, with its findings, which were reported by The Express- no, not on the Front Page, as it published the earlier reports, silly- but on one the inside pages-

"‘During the investigation of Satyendra Kumar Dubey’s murder case, involvement of any contractor/mafia was not found. Investigations named four accused — Mantu Kumar, Udai Kumar, Pinku Ravidas and Shravan Kumar, all residents of Katari village in Gaya, Bihar. They were arrested and the CBI also recovered Dubey’s personal belongings and the weapon used in the crime on the disclosure statements of the accused,’’ the status report filed by CBI in court said."

So clearly the Express had got it all wrong. Although the CBI found irregularities in the NHAI contract, which Dubey had complained against, there seems to be (basis investigations done by the CBI), no connection with his murder as the Express had alleged but was purely a case of robbery.

So am I saying that The Express should stop taking a stance, or raking up issues which concern us public? Not by a long mile. What I am saying though is that all responsible media houses should:

- Place facts and let the public be the judge
- The media house should take a stance on a particular event/issue, but only in the editorial, not the news item!
- If they are proven wrong, they should have the decency to apologize about reporting such wrongs to set the record straight.
-Most important, check their facts as much as humanly possible and then report facts, not opinions.

The Express clearly is falling short ofthe above standards, at least on the Dubey case, as I write this. But of course, to the Times of India, one need not even dare suggest anything, lest they not even comprehend what journalistic duties you are referring to!

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July 14, 2007 12:29 AM

A summary of the report of CBI on the Dubey murder case (which the CBI itself probably would have provided as part of its detailed report) should have been included (or, if it is too long, summarize the summary to be included in the blog. Whether the CBI dealt with the reported letter of Dubey complaining of corruption in the NHAI on its Golden Quadrilateral project, and if yes, how it did, would have been interesting from the vewpoint of readers, who are generally of the view that construction projects, especially those executed by the Indian Govt. with the involvement of contractors are most often notorious for their corruption in various ways - low quality of work executed, bribes shared as a matter of routine between the government officials, and of course politicians from high to low levels. This is accepted as 'given' by all concerned, and even in the rare cases when complaints are made regarding the public money being looted, usually "departmental enquiries" are held and the criminals of corruption go unpunished. (According to innumerable reports and editorials in newspapers and magazinesm this corruption is too rampant, all over India, in both Central and State government departments and Undertakings,though not only in engineering ontracts. Let us not get bogged down arguing about this historical, daily occurrence.) Is it not true that in many cases "moles" planted by culprits of corruption in departments or ministers' offices leak out information about complaints, so that there is little chance of taking the criminals (let us say, suspected ones) to court ? It is also worth noting here that many politicians themselves do not think that the CBI is always above board while investigating cases referred to it and charge that the CBI is just a handmaiden of the Govt. of India ? Also one would like to know the information (as part of the blog itself), what exactly was the inspiration for the blogger to take up this revelation about of the Dubey case so vigorously, when the above facts about corruption, all taken togethr, are considered ?    

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