Guest post by Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh
I have thought hard about why I want to write this piece at all, since so many others before me, have made robust critiques of Mr B.G Verghese’s well-known views on the Kunan Poshpora mass rape. Past criticism has focussed on questions of his obvious biases– both personal and professional, his misogyny and profound lack of empathy for the victims, his blinding nationalism, the tenor and language of his reportage. Most however accept his version of the facts, given his (often self proclaimed) claims to veracity bolstered by official hospitality, access to documents, and his reputation as an eminent journalist. ‘There was a delay in making an official complaint’ ‘medical evidence shows that the mass rapes did not take place’, ‘villager’s and early official accounts of that night are full of gaps and contradictions’, these have become the pervasive truths about the events of February 23-24, 1991, to the point where his decriers can often only counter him by explaining away the inconvenient and the inexplicable, within the narrative and factual scaffolding that he provides. Mr Verghese points to this when he writes, ‘Sadly, it [the Press Council of India Report] was and is widely criticised to this day, without critics having read it or controverted its substantive findings’. Mr Verghese fails to disclose that until recently no one has had access to the ‘substantive’ material that could allow such a critique, because the state had never disclosed that any other investigative material existed simply replying to RTIs seeking information on the status of the case, with the inscrutable ‘closed as untraced’. The unwieldy length of this piece (8000 words) will, I hope, serve to finally pursuade him that not only is his work read, it is read in painstaking detail.