Response to The Guardian Article on Modi

The Guardian published an article by  Aditya Chakrabortty on 19th Nov 2012. Reproduced below is an email I have sent to Readers’ Editor of The Guardian to protest this highly objectionable piece of political propaganda .

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Dear Mr. Elliott,

This letter is in reference to an extraordinary diatribe published in http://www.guardian.co.uk/ on 19th November 2012. The column is titled “Why David Cameron is doing business with India’s ‘modern-day Nero’ ” and is written by Aditya Chakrabortty. Below is a link to the said article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/19/david-cameron-india-narendra-modi?CMP=twt_gu

While it is the absolute prerogative of The Guardian to take any Editorial line, one expects that facts will not be completely put in abeyance. So it the right of The Guardian to take an editorial stance against David Cameron and use any news source or event –  fact or fiction – to further this agenda. What is not kosher though is that liberties are taken to besmirch democratically elected leaders in other parts of the world towards partisan domestic British politics.

The above referenced column is ostensibly about David Cameron. However, it comes out as a shocking piece of screed against Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Indian state of Gujarat. Almost every piece of information in the article, used to build a case against Modi, is factually incorrect and legally unsustainable. Below are a few examples:

1.  The writer in para 7 mentions that official figures of those killed in “pogrom” is around 1000 while “independent researchers” put it around 2000. Now I can understand that The Guardian might want to distrust Indian news sources as unworthy (former colony of Britain etc), so here is a link from BBC : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4543177.stm.

First, official stats from Government of India put the number of those dead in the riots at 1044 – 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus. The government of India, since 2004, has been that of Congress party, an implicitly hostile government to Modi. The figures quoted have been provided by the Home Minster in the central government. It seems unlikely that they would under-report those dead in riots in an opposition state? Second, in a pogrom, members from both rioting / warring factions do not die. Else it is not a pogrom but a riot. How many Hindus died in the riot – 254. How?  By police firing mostly, and some in the riots. If it was a pogrom, which by definition is state sanctioned, state controlled police would NOT have fired at rioting Hindus. Seems logical, right? Yet, this discredited line finds place in The Guardian.

2. The para 8 of the article is the most stunning piece of lie I have ever seen in a mainstream paper. The writer mentions the Godhra train carnage, which preceded the riots, and in which 59 innocent Hindu pilgrims were brutally burnt alive by a mob of  Muslims. However the writer states: “it has since been suggested that it may have been an accident.”  There have been attempts in India too to peddle this line – that the train carnage was accidental. That somehow the pilgrims decided to commit mass suicide. But that line is vintage 2006. This is 2012. That line now stands discredited. Why? Because in 2011, an Indian court held 31 Muslims guilty of pre-planned conspiracy to kill the Hindu pilgrims. Here is a BBC news report (again BBC, just to make it more believable) on the same: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12534127

First, the prosecuting agency in the case was a Special Investigating Team (SIT), appointed and monitored by the Supreme Court of India. Therefore, the impartiality of the prosecution and the verdict has not been questioned by anyone, not even those critical of Modi. Second, if the writer absolutely fails to mention a judicial finding but continues to peddle lies and fabrications regarding the Godhra train carnage, and The Guardian allows it to be published, then the motives of the paper must be called in question. As mentioned, this is not 2006 when the discredited “accidental train fire” line was first floated. This is 2012 – when a judicial determination has been pronounced. Of course, The Guardian can choose to  take the line that Indian judiciary, Supreme Court of India included, are untrustworthy !

3. Para 9 of the article peddles another lie shredded by investigations – “Pregnant Muslim women had their bellies slit open with knives, and the foetuses pulled out.” This is an urban legend that was spun by the cottage industry which survives on anti Modi and anti Gujarat propaganda. The SIT, which investigated the case, has concluded that this allegation is false. The doctor who conducted the post-mortem on the lady in question, gave a testimony on oath that the allegations are patently false. A court gave verdict on this and other related cases, commonly known as Naroda Patiya case, on 31st August 2012. The court accepted the argument this allegation is fabricated. All human rights activists, who have for a decade campaigned against Modi, celebrated the judgment in the said case. Yet, this despicable lie finds place in The Guardian.

4. In para 12, the writer use the phrase “A modern-day Nero” for Modi and attributes it to the Supreme Court. The same phrase is also used in the headline of the piece. Can The Guardian quote any order by the Supreme Court of India where this phrase is used for Modi?

5. Para 12 has also this sentence : “A court-appointed senior lawyer recommended that the chief minister be prosecuted for hate-mongering.” As mentioned earlier, the Supreme Court of India appointed a SIT to investigate some specific 2002 riots cases including allegations against Modi. The SIT was given code of criminal procedure powers, a first in Indian jurisprudence, considering the extraordinary nature of the riots and the allegations. Such powers are only available to regular police force and not to special investigating teams. This case was made an exception. The court also appointed a senior lawyer to assist the court as an adviser. The SIT, after detailed investigations over a number of years, concluded that the allegations against Modi were without any substance whatsoever. The senior lawyer, who was acting merely in advisory capacity, agreed with almost all of SIT findings but suggested that Modi be prosecuted nonetheless. The Supreme Court gave the final authority, on whether to prosecute or not, to the SIT, since it was the SIT which had legal remit while the lawyer was merely an adviser. The SIT, after considering all aspects, including the lawyers opinion, decided finally that no case existed against Modi. The writer mentions the lawyers opinion but not the only legally valid opinion – in this case that of the SIT.

Opinion columns are free to take any position on subject to suit one’s biases  But must they necessarily be based on half-truths and complete lies?

As I was researching The Guardian webpage to locate a suitable email id to respond to the drivel by the writer of the piece, I came across the fancily titled “The Guardian’s Editorial code” Here it is, in case it has not been referenced in recent weeks: http://www.guardian.co.uk/info/guardian-editorial-code

The most important currency, for The Guardian, is trust, says the code. Several guidelines are mentioned, which ought to be adhered to maintain this trust –

A) Fairness – The voice of the opponent no less of friends has a right to be heard.

B) Verification – Trust in the authenticity and reliability of our sources is essential.

C) Editor’s Code 

  1. Accuracy – A press whilst free to be partisan, must clearly disgusting between comment, conjecture and fact.
  2. Opportunity to reply – A fair opportunity to reply to inaccuracies ….

As George Entwistl resigned last week, I leave it to your judgment to decide which of the above codes, or all, or even some more, is The Guardian in violation of. I will end with a quotation from C.P. Scott’s essay, published on May 5th, 1921 in the Manchester Guardian: “Comment is free but facts are sacred. “Propaganda”, so called, by this means is hateful.” 

Regards,

Akhilesh Mishra

Gurgaon, India.

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 Updates: This blog was later published on Niti Central on 22nd November, 2012. 

Truth takes a beating in Guardian’s scurrilous attack on Modi

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24 thoughts on “Response to The Guardian Article on Modi

  1. Anir says:

    Brilliant. The Guardian has lost all credibility. They better issue a clarification if they want to hold on to whatever is remaining of their reputation

    Like

  2. Disheet says:

    Absolutely Brilliant ! Well written – to the point ! Mr. @chakrabortty ‘s brain and bank accounts both need to be analysed to check what lured him to write and publish such vicious lies .

    Like

  3. Vikram S says:

    Fitting response to an atrocious, shoddy Modi-demonizing article riddled with inaccuracies. Hope the Guardian has the sense to render a full apology and retraction.

    Like

  4. Gujju By Heart says:

    Very good work Mishra ji.
    We need more people like you to stop Media Take overt this country and convert it to whatever they want.

    Like

  5. gbhat says:

    Briliant piece Akhilesh. Have they pulled back the offending article and apologised? If not, it proves Guardian doesnt follow their own Ethics code.

    Like

  6. Radhey says:

    Very well researched,informative and well written Sir,but i think what harm, Gaurdian could do,it has done that.what they have answered about your correction and query?will they formally apologize for it?bcoz,someday at FB post,i saw a post By Dr.Kumar Vishwas bashing the Modi and other guy convicted for slitting that pregnent lady stomach.i doubted but he had mentioned that he have seen a Video,and he was doing dramaticlly playing with words.what is the response of Gaurdian?plz post it here,if you get it.
    Thank you for your insightful blog.

    Like

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