Teesta Setalvad and Spicy Cooking

I somehow missed the news here and here about Teesta Setalvad ‘spicing up’ Gujarat riots until I read Quirky Indian’s latest post.

Hardly surprising that I missed it, given the fact that it was hidden away amongst more ‘news worthy’ items and the fact that the only Indian News Channel that I get here  – NDTV – just did not think it important enough. They, however kept flashing what Farooq Abdullah thought of the Kandahar ‘exchange’ !

Apparently, the well known activist cooked up ‘macabre tales of wanton killings’..

‘Many incidents of killings and violence were cooked up, false charges were levelled against then police chief P C Pandey and false witnesses were tutored to give evidence about imaginary incidents, the SIT said in a report submitted before a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam.’

Now, what really amazes me is that, for the amount of coverage of the Gujarat riots – it is surprising that this is totally swept under the carpet? Hasn’t Teesta done more to harm  communal harmony – than say Varun Gandhi? Isn’t her crime worse – for it, sure looks more pre-mediated?  And in an already communally charged atmosphere, when we read about these macabre killings  – what do you think would have gone through the community who was at the brunt of the carnage? Would they not feel even more insecure and helpless ? While I am sure, a lot of things happened – is it fair to concoct up some more – just for the shock value? How on earth, does such accounts help communal harmony? What was she trying to achieve? Was it all for political mileage or media coverage?

As Bhanu Pratap Mehta says, ‘If true, she has not only done deep disservice to the victims of the Gujarat riots; she has also undermined the credibility of so-called secular interlocutors. It confirms the suspicion many have, that often those speaking in the name of secularism do not subscribe to the very values they claim to be fighting for: truth, justice, impartiality and the rule of law. Their secularism is in the service of beating down opponents rather than discovering the truth. “Tutoring witnesses”, concocting horror stories in a politically charged situation is a serious crime; of a piece with what the supposedly “bad” guys do. After all, their politics depends upon falsely whipped-up paranoia, tampering with the system of justice, engaging in a pornography of violence and having scant regard for the truth. The fact that this is done in the name of victims, for a supposedly just cause, does not excuse it. It makes it worse.’

And the worst of it all – why is the media turning a blind eye??????

Edited to add – I just came across another article here.

Edited Again to add Dilip D’Souza, sent me this link – in his comment – http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?sectionName=HomePage&id=954c5708-79ee-47d0-8272-795b79946cd5&Headline=Gujarat+riots+witnesses+not+tutored%3a+SIT

Apparently, the SIT team has ‘slammed reports that riots witnesses were tutored to give false evidence for exaggeration of the situation, by activists and organisations helping the victims’. Apparently there have been leaks  – ‘ The alleged reported leaks appear to be inspired by dubious motives. I cannot confirm such claims. The act is highly condemnable,” Raghavan said. ‘

So it looks as if Teesta Setalvad may not have ‘cooked’ up stories – which is a relief – it was scary to think that this kind of a thing was done. However, I still do not understand why the mainstream media is not even commenting on it….

19 thoughts on “Teesta Setalvad and Spicy Cooking

  1. Smitha, thanks for the mention.

    The fact that news like this gets no coverage is bad enough; what’s even worse is the impunity with which this is done. Let’s turn the situation on its head. If Modi or Varun or any one of the ‘usual suspects’ had done something like this, or even been accused of it, the uproar and media frenzy would have been unimaginable. Even the number of blogs that carried that news would dramatically increase, and we would all rant about how such people should be severely punished, how examples should be made of them, of how ashamed we are of what these people have done.

    It’s ironic that such inconsistent standards end up, as Bhanu Mehta rightly says, damaging the causes of secularism, truth and justice as much as the rioters did.

    Quirky Indian

    Me : Thank You QI, for bringing it up. I had not even noticed it – and am sure a lot of others did not too.. It was literally hidden away!
    As for the double standards, you are right! We had the media and blogs, for that matter, dedicated to Varun Gandhi – but hardly anyone says anything when something like this happens.. Yes, had it been something to do with the ‘usual suspects’ – the frenzy would have definitely been different!

  2. You have hit the nail on the head. Why do you think the media has buried this news? What Setalvad has done to generate communal hatred is far more grave than we realise. Just look at the time she has been given in the media. Just look at the image of India she has spread all over the globe. And she has been doing it full blast for years.

    I have always believed that the so-called secular and “liberal” activists are actually the most intolerant of the lot; some of them are almost fascists. It has to be there way or all hell is let loose. And in the process, truth, morality, sensitivity etc are sacrificed with a cold ease that can send shudders down one’s spine. Teesta Setalvad is the that ugly, dishonest, hateful face of India’s modern and intolerant “moral” brigade.

    Me : Vinod – It was so shocking to read all that.. For the last 6 years, we had kept hearing about these instances – which turn out to be cooked???? And even more shocking is that the mainstream media – atleast NDTV – which I get here – has not even mentioned it!
    Yes, I have come to the same conclusion that ‘so-called secular and “liberal” activists are actually the most intolerant of the lot; some of them are almost fascists.’ They are ‘intolerant’ to the point that they are ready to make up stories – just to justify their points! ‘ And in the process, truth, morality, sensitivity etc are sacrificed with a cold ease that can send shudders down one’s spine.’ – So true – that was what I felt when I read it – it was frightening that this could be done – and everybody just looks the other way!

  3. A powerful thought! I wonder everytime a news hits the front pages about what is right and what is wrong. Who is innocent and who is not!

    I liked what you wrote here…”After all, their politics depends upon falsely whipped-up paranoia, tampering with the system of justice, engaging in a pornography of violence and having scant regard for the truth….”

    Keep Blogging!

    Me : Biju , welcome here! By the way – those were not my words – I was quoting Bhanu Pratap Mehta. I have also linked it to his article.. Sorry if it was not clear enough.
    But yes, it is a powerful thought – and a scary one.. We can never be sure of the authenticity of what we see/read in the news…

  4. I shudder to think of what actually happened and what came “out” as evidence….

    we are so comfortable living the lie……….
    thanks to QI and you for bringing this up

    Ajit, the scaries part is – we still do not know what is the truth! and what really worries me is that I donot see this reported in any mainstream news channel.. Why is it that the media which is normally quick to condemn or condone something – totally ignoring this? That is what really worries me! and makes me wonder if this is indeed true and the media just wants to hide it away – to try and ignore the part it played?

  5. Smitha, I have read several times in the past few years, that Teesta Setalvad twisted the truth and concocted stories. Witnesses were quoted to substantiate what was written.

    Each time the news report was in a regional Marathi newspaper. The English press does not touch such a story where “secularists” may be seen in a bad light.

    About English language news channels- the less said the better.

    Manju, ‘The English press does not touch such a story where “secularists” may be seen in a bad light.’ – that I think, is the true.. Why, would the mainstream media turn a blind eye to this? Clearly, it does not want to bring it up.. Even if the SIT is biased – shouldn’t this be reported?

  6. Smitha, This is what gets me too. Why the media and many see only one side and turn a blind eye on another? That is what the psuedo-secularism I have been talking about. People and media have agenda. While they openly talk about ‘Hindu terrorists’. Yes! that’s the word now, no one ever has the guts to talk about dangers of other forms like forced conversion or inhuman behavior towards women of other community.

    We won’t hear anything on them. It will be hidden on the sidebar of newspaper for us to miss it. As I have mentioned everywhere. Why is Madani not even mentioned anywhere? He is giving the same hate speeches and worst than Varun.

    And is it any wonder that more Hindus are supporting BJP now? It is a cycle and it is going to get worse.

    Solilo, Totally agree!! Yes, and that is the reason BJP and the Sangh Parivar have so many supporters – because people are feeling sidelined. So the more ‘psuedo-secular’, our politics becomes, the worse, the divide between communties.. As you say – a vicious cycle!
    I have heard of Madani – not just speeches – didn’t he also have links with the terrorist attacks in Coimbatore? Even then – he is apparently extremely secular! That is what really appalls me!

    As for ‘Hindu Terrorists’ – I think the media hit a jackpot with that – they totally went to town, didn’t they? They just love that phrase!

    As long as, ‘secularism’ is practised the way it is today, things will only get worse!

  7. Smitha, Did you follow the discussion on Abhi’s (Indyeah) Pseudo secularism post? Her research and the comment interaction is a good read and also FACT.

    Me – Yes, I did Solilo, and I agreed with everything she and a lot of others said there!

  8. Media is turning a blind eye, because fortunately or unfortunately such stories dont sell to a certain section of the society; they need universal appeal. News channels are sponsored by bigwigs and they need to keep them happy too. and even the news channels are looking at all probable opportunities to convert themselves to an entertainment channel ! Why else would they keep showing about Amitabhs hospitilisation (last Oct) as flash news when we had our country going through the worst stages of inflation at the same time !!

    Vimmuuu – Agree with you on that. Media certainly wants to get their TRPs high! Amitabh clearly is a huge TRP raiser! Also, I feel, that they have their own agendas on who is guilty and who is not.. So while Varun Gandhi was given extensive coverage – they certainly don’t feel Teesta deserves a mention!
    As for lame topics like inflation and the economic crisis – ‘who cares!’ I don’t see a single channel talking about real issues in the elections – they are more than happy, showing who said what and who hurt whom!

  9. Media,especially,electronics has maintained double standards always.It is only now that some of us have started to realise it.Teesta has had more time on TV than any other activist during the time in question.In my opinion,she was only a front of some of the news channels who ,naturally,wanted to play secular and safe.May be she has also realised that it was all not worth it.May be she will also realise how much damage has been done to certain people due to her aggressive stand.But,where are we today?Will Modi have the last laugh?

    B K Chowla, Welcome here! Yes, the electronic media has always maintained double standards. Where are we today – that is certainly an important question! And as to whether Modi will have the last laugh – guess we will know in a month’s time!

  10. But the question is, who do we believe?

    Rakesh, That is definitely a valid question. Yes, for all you know, Teesta might be totally innocent – and I am willing to believe that she is innocent – unless proved guilty. However, what worries me is that the media, who is constantly talking about Gujarat 2002 – is just not bringing up this.
    Now, if we try to analyse why

    Reason 1 – They do not believe that the report is genuine. Well, then, dont you think, they should still report it and bring experts/witnesses who can talk about why they feel so.. rather than just ignore it?

    Reason 2 – They realise that the SIT report might have hit upon a valid point. They are now worried that all this while they had been harping on these instances – without proper investigations and they don’t want that to come out…

    What do you think?

    • Yep, I agree that the reason why the media is not giving this report any publicity has actually got something to do with their bias. Agree completely when you say even if they don’t believe it, they should talk about it and analyse it. Bring her on air and ask her to justify herself. They do that everytime with every other accused.

      Me: ‘They do that everytime with every other accused.’ – exactly!!! And they don’t seem to want to do it with Teesta – that is my grouse.. Judge and treat everybody with the same yardstick.. The fact that the media maintains different standards, really gets me!

  11. I think the reason is because they fell for her story, the media reported it without investigations, and if they pursue it now, it can open up a can of worms for them too.

    GM – I agree – which is why it enrages me so much!!!!

  12. Guess there are many of us who never heard about Teesta Setalvad.. I never did.. but it is a relief to know that some of those stories were cooked up….

    but it leaves us with yet another painful question; whom do we believe? I read from wikepedia that she worked with IE before she started her own publications.. so I guess it was after all only a means to grab attention. Woe to all these worms..

    Me : I know! and it scares me and enrages me that our media is being so biased in they reporting

  13. Pingback: Investigating Teesta | DesiPundit

  14. This instance really symbolizes what the Indian media stands for. The other day i watched a news clip where this journalist used up all the heavy words he could find to lambast Varun Gandhi over his ‘alleged’ comments.

    One gem that i can recall is : “desh nayakon se banta hai. khalnayakon se nahi”

    The word pseudo-secularist comes to mind, but it has been too often, and in vain.

    Our media is just too biased.

    Why? I have no idea.


    Me: Amreekandesi – Welcome here!! I think it has just become politically correct and fashionable to be ‘pseudo-secular’ – while in my mind, pseudo-secularism actually does more to incite communal feelings than promote communal harmony.. Sad state..

  15. This is shocking but not surprising. It is biased media coverage like this and selfish vote bank politics which makes a secular Indian turn towards the communal forces(majority and minority both).
    What Varun Gandhi said was condemnable but I am surprised at the reaction or rather lack of reaction to Sanjay Dutt’s speeches. He is openly inciting minorities and there is no reaction from the EC or the govt.

    Prerna, ‘ It is biased media coverage like this and selfish vote bank politics which makes a secular Indian turn towards the communal forces(majority and minority both). ‘ – Totally agree with this.. and that is the saddest thing of it all…. Sanjay Dutt’s speech could just was easily incite communal hatred and you are right – not a whimper from the EC or the govt.. That is the sad part of our ‘secularism’

  16. Here’s some of what the SIT said yesterday (April 21st):

    * The Special Investigation Team (SIT) … on Tuesday slammed reports that riots witnesses were tutored to give false evidence for exaggeration of the situation, by activists and organisations helping the victims.

    * [T]he Supreme Court termed the leak as a “betrayal of the faith reposed in those to whom the report was allowed access”.

    * “The alleged reported leaks appear to be inspired by dubious motives. I cannot confirm such claims. The act is highly condemnable,” [SIT chief] Raghavan said.

    * The SIT sources said the alleged leaks appear to have been based on statements of state police officials and “cannot be termed as findings of the report.”

    All from the Hindustan Times today (April 22), this report: Gujarat riots witnesses not tutored: SIT.

    (This is all in a post on my blog, More about warped minds).

    Me: Dilip – Thanks so much for letting me know – I have updated my post with the information that you gave me.. It was a relief to read it – Thanks again!

  17. Mr Dilip,

    I see that you have taken care to post the same comment in multiple blogs 🙂 . One wonders at the motives behind such activism.

    It is a bit strange that the HT reports this in its headline as “Gujarat riots witnesses not tutored: SIT.” when nothing of that sort is implied by the contents of the report.

    Infact, the report goes onto say,

    “Asked about the leaked contents of the report, the SIT chief, R. K. Raghavan told Hindustan Times that he could not confirm whether the leaked contents were true.”

    Strangely enough, you seem to have missed highlighting the same when listing what the SIT said.

    Putting together the various reports, an unbiased observer would conclude the following:

    The SIT report was leaked to the TOI reporter, possibly by someone with a vested interest. (However, one should not ignore the message just because one does not like the messenger).

    The contents of the report published by the TOI reporter were very likely true.(considering that one does not prima facie see any reason for the TOI or its reporter to lie blatantly. Further I have not heard Teesta or her acolytes suing TOI for libel, which would be a valid course of action if the contents of the report were not the same as the SIT’s findings)

    One is therefore tempted to conclude that Teesta Setelvad therefore is by no means innocent and very likely, she did cook up macabre stories and did “tutor witnesses.”

So, what do you think?

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