Three different stories from one source
Three newspapers with a national presence have reported differently on the same event, picking what suited their line of thinking.
MAHESH VIJAPURKAR takes up cudgels on behalf of the bemused readers
Saturday, Feb 05 00:51:51, 2011
The Indian Express on February 4, 2011 said, “SIT says no ground for legal action against Modi: Report” because the Special Investigation Team’s ``preliminary inquiry did not throw up any material that would justify further action under the law against Narendra Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister’’.
The Daily News & Analysis ran a page one lead with the headline ‘No SIT clean chit for Modi’ pointing out that SIT, led by former Central Bureau of Investigation Director, R K Raghavan had found him guilty on ``several grounds”.
The Hindustan Times story says, SIT indicts Modi for post-Godhra riotsbut leaves out many details found in the other two publications. It makes a political comment saying, ``The report has given the Congress a fresh handle to attack Modi.’’
One finds Modi clean, the other finds him unclean and a third goes ahead and indicts him. All three have sourced their story to Tehelka: Here’s the smoking gun so how come the SIT is looking the other way? The website of the news outlet claimed that it has ``scooped the sensational 600-page inquiry report into Modi’s alleged role in the 2002 massacre. The content is shocking and will come as a serious blow to the carefully cultivated image of Modi as an able administrator and a man of good governance. For eight years, riot victims and human rights groups have cried hoarse about the deliberate miscarriage of justice in Gujarat. About how the police and State machinery had either ignored or abetted rioters and created the space for massacres to happen; about how some ruling party politicians had goaded the public mood to new danger levels; about the State’s blatant and continuing prejudice against the victims; about public prosecutors who were subverting justice in the courts by helping the accused instead of nailing their guilt”.
Tehelka seemed to have been irked by the certificate of innocence given to Modi weeks ago after, in its own words, “On 3 December 2010, a leading national daily ran a front page story headlined ‘SIT clears Narendra Modi of wilfully allowing post-Godhra riots.’ News channels took up the story and flashed, `SIT gives Modi a clean chit’ across screens. The newspaper report that was attributed to anonymous sources and had little more information than the sensational caption was expanded into a certificate of innocence for Modi.”
So why are there diverse approaches to the same story which emanated from the same source, the redoubtable Tehelka?
DNA finds that the SIT also found evidence of the complicity of the then minister of state for home Gordhan Zadafia and top cops like MK Tandon and PB Gondia in the riots. ``Though the above allegations have been found to be true they can’t be further investigated under the law,” the SIT report is quoted to have said. DNA says that Tehelka has interpreted this to mean that SIT is hinting at the lack of adequate legal provisions to punish government officials involved in the riots. It says the SIT views itself as a fact-finding body and not an investigation team with powers under the Criminal Procedure Code.
The Indian Express story, also based on Tehelka revelations, says that 32 allegations relating to the state government’s acts of omission and commission were probed and only ``a few of these were in fact substantiated...the substantial allegations did not throw up material that would justify further action under the law”.
Interestingly, the item continues with four bullet points all of which quote the SIT’s remarks and show Modi in a poor light:
· Despite ghastly and violent attacks on Muslims, the “reaction of the government was not the type that would have been expected by anyone. The CM had tried to water down the seriousness” by saying “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.’’
· “When Hindu tempers were running high”, the CM’s statement saying that there were some “elements in Godhra and the neighbourhood possessing criminal tendency’’ was sweeping and offensive.
· “Implied justification” of Modi of “the killings of innocent members of the minority community members read together with the absence of a strong condemnation of the violence that followed Godhra suggested a partisan stance at a critical juncture”.
· Modi “displayed a discriminatory attitude” by Going to Godhra but not areas where “large number of Muslims werekilled”. He travelled 300 kms but did “not cite specific reasons why he did not visit the affected areas in Ahmedabad promptly”.
When the reader considers the above points in light of the heading, which is giving a clean chit to Modi, he is bound to be left much confused as to the intent of the newspaper.
All the reports rely on the Tehelka expose and are bound to leave the reader of a single newspaper with a one-sided view. A discerning reader will have to go to the source to get the truth.