Media manipulation on Ishrat continues: Vrinda Grover’s Protest Letter to Hindustan Times

The Editor,
Hindustan Times

On the day the CBI is set to file its chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, Hindustan Times has chosen to report about it in a manner that is malicious, prejudicial and intended to manipulate public opinion. The report, “ ‘Ishrat Jahan had links with Kashmir Separatists’: CBI” by Mahesh Langa and Abhishek Sharan in the Delhi/ Ahmedabad edition of the newspaper is nothing short of defamatory. The headline attributes this ‘information’ to the CBI whereas in the text of the report, it is said that two of those killed along with Ishrat “were associated with secessionist groups in Kashmir”. Clearly, the CBI is not saying that Ishrat had any links with any group. This is a deliberate misrepresentation and a cheap trick to make connections where none exist in order to tarnish the reputation of a deceased girl who is no longer present to defend herself. We are in possession of the original article written by Mahesh Langa, which was also carried in the Ahmedabad edition of Hindustan Times as “Ishrat case: What the Chargesheet is Likely to reveal” which does not attempt to make any such a spurious connection.

From where then did this headline emerge in the Delhi edition? Why this attempt to taint her with the ‘terror’ tag through false and sensationalist headlines, especially on a day when the battle for justice enters a crucial phase with the CBI expected to file its chargesheet. It can hardly be seen as an innocent oversight given the fact that a concerted campaign to malign Ishrat’s reputation has been central to those trying to obstruct justice and the process of law.

We expect the Hindustan Times to issue an unconditional apology to the family of Ishrat Jahan, printed in the same large and bold font as the headline of the report today. Such sensationalism violates all codes and ethics of reporting and journalism and is liable to invite action by Press Council and other statutory bodies.

Vrinda Grover
Lawyer for Shamima Kauser
(Mother of deceased Ishrat Jahan)

10 thoughts on “Media manipulation on Ishrat continues: Vrinda Grover’s Protest Letter to Hindustan Times”

  1. Vrinda’s excellent letter once again highlights the embedded Hindu nationalist bias in the mainstream Indian media. I had reported about this bias in AIR, Doordarshan and India’s English dailies’s coverage of Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s.


  2. The media,as also the judiciary,the politicians,and the bureaucracy,seem to have been co-opted by the security establishment into its narrative of who the suspects are who are responsible for terrorist activities,without any objective evidence and based solely on the stories propagated by it which it claims to have obtained through sources and which it claims to have been substantiated by the confessions voluntarily given by the suspects themselves.


  3. All encounter cases from 1990 onwards should be reopened, including the assassination of Rajeev gandhi & Indira gandhi, & killing of Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh, orissa by the respective state governments. There should also be an investigation on the so called Batal encounter deaths where Muslim uouths belonging to Indian Mujahedden were shot dead, those who has given orders for shooting down those youths should be arrested.


  4. This is not the first time that Hindustan Times has carried planted `reports’ to obstruct fair trial and investigation. They have consistently published false and fabricated plants about the Aarushi-Hemraj case. The story titled “Ishrat had Links with Kashmir Separatists” is entirely mischevious and malafide.


    1. During early 1980s when Akali agitation (Morcha) was going on, The Hindustan Times, Delhi was in the forefront to spread disinformation against the Sikhs. The newspaper’s ace journalist, Menon ( he was among the seniors on editorial board) who latter represented the newspaper in Washington had manipulated, distorted and misrepresented every event emerging from and related to the Golden Temple and the Sikh leadership running agitation from there. Some of us,( three-four) reporters based in Amritsar then, most often amusingly used tell the newspaper’s then local reporter, K.S Tomar that ,” your paper writes as a mouthpiece of Indira Gandhi Congress….. it looks like a house journal of Congress party ?’
      Even, Tomar had always been defensive on the ways and manner his newspaper reported about the Punjab developments then. Tomar, a field reporter then, had to face the people, Akali leaders there in Amritsar. But, Menon could get away writing anything while sitting in Delhi.
      Hence, the Hindustan Times has long been not only toeing the Establishment line but always donned a propagandist robe and pursues Hindu Upper Caste role whenever it reported events relating to Dalits, minorities and other vulnerable sections of the societies.


      1. Dear JS Sidhu
        What does Hindu upper caste have to do with the killing of Ishrat Jahan ? Why drag entire caste unnecessarily? Let the court carry on a fair trial to bring out the truth and punish the guilty if it is proved that the encounter was fake.


        1. The point Sidhu is making is that it is not an isolated case of one misreporting- it is an instance of large malaise in India’s mainstream media that it has an embedded culture of Hindu nationalist bias in giving a spin while reporting, suppressing, under-reporting, sensationalizing events. The degree of this bias is uneven among different media establishments. My study of Indian media’s reporting on Punjab did show that Hindustan Times under Menon (the point made by Sidhu) and Times of India under Giri Lal Jain were the worst culprits.


          1. Dear Partha Das
            Pritam Singh has duly understood the instance about media’s manipulation, I have cited from my personal experience as a journalist in Amritsar.And he has, in fact, replied comprehensively to you contention that I ‘unnecessarily dragged Hindu upper Caste’ in a case of biased reporting by a newspaper. You have, in fact, displayed unambiguously the caste-hegemony of upper caste people like you seem to nourish and nurture. That is why, mere reference to that caste provokes you and make you miss the real point I wanted to make.
            What I wanted to convey frankly– that historically embedded bias and prejudice of upper caste against the socially and politically deprived people has been the main of cause the media manipulation particularly in the case of reporting about minorities ( Ishrat Jahan belongs to a Muslim minority) ,Dalits and vulnerable sections of the Indian society. Perhaps, you are not aware about a survey conducted in 1995-6 in Delhi by a Group of Journalists that all 10 upper senior positions in almost all national dailies and other mainstream media outlets were manned and occupied by Hindu upper caste people. No journalist from minority communities, Dalits and OBCs figured in that slot of senior managerial journalistic positions.
            That survey was carried by The Hindu, and printed copies of that survey distributed at various journalistic meets. But no one has ever disputed that survey till day.
            I wanted to restrict to the media sphere only, otherwise, It is fairly known world over that the Indian caste system, conceived, perpetuated and exercised by the Hindu upper caste in collaboration with political power of the day , deprived millions of Dalits and other disadvantageous people of their very right of being human beings for over two thousand years. And, jingoistic brand of Indian nationalism of the day is being propagated and carried by the privileged Hindu upper caste, broadly constituting Indian Elite, who could boast of ‘fair trial’ by courts and pontificate others to ‘wait for the trial outcome’ and could advocate that ‘one is not guilty unless proved otherwise’.


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