India Express, the pallbearer, err…flagbearer of Indian Mainstream Media, for two days running on its front page (there would be more Front Pages in coming days, be assured) has gravely stated (in its editorial) how the authorities are browbeating the journalists of this country.
The matter relates to a Tribune story in which one of its reporter could gain access to as many Aadhaar numbers as desired by buying a login and password for Rs 500 only. Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Aadhaar’s regulatory body, in retaliation has gone to police, and lo and behold, all hell has broken loose. Indian Express, along with press bodies and Amnesty International, not to forget the Congress and other opposition skunks, are beating their chests in mourning.
A few questions to these pall-bearers are in order. Let’s begin with Indian Express. My beloved newspaper, why have you chosen to blank (sic) the statement of Delhi Police of Sunday which could have answered most of your insinuations misleading your innocent readers?
The Police in its official statement has stated that UIDAI had filed a “open-ended” complaint with the former’s cyber cell which the Police later converted into an FIR. Why then defame a regulatory body with a “crime” they never committed? Why hide the facts?
Two, while you cry hoarse and run your throat dry, why not report that the FIR says “unknown” under the column “accused”? Why hide the facts?
When UIDAI hasn’t named Tribune or its reporter as “accused” how could it be an attack on the freedom of the press? Could reporting a sequence of events be construed as an attack on free press?
UIDAI has also cleared its stand via a note, which states that they are duty bound to file an FIR whenever a crime takes place, and all the persons known to be involved in any capacity, have to be mentioned in this FIR. “It does not mean that all those named in the report are necessarily guilty or being targeted” the note further states.
We must chip in and be on our feet to applaud the Police. When fake news monsters are misleading the public and avoid/neglect official reactions, the regulatory authorities increasingly are resorting to Social Media, press conferences, advertisements and official statements to convey their side of the story. Way to go, folks
Three, Indian Express actually should admonish fellow Tribune and its reporter for wasting Rs 500 when the allowed access is only to help personnel/officials address the grievances of citizens. Without security measures—highly encrypted ones—such as biometrics and iris, the newspaper report is not a “data breach” and can only be described as “misreporting” which the UIDAI has dryly noted.
Now let’s come to other jokers. Google practically has no trace of Editors’ Guild of India hard as I tried. No website. All I could do was to find it has just 2 tweets (yes, TWO!) since its’ joining in 2016. Such media-shy body is the custodian of free media in this country. The most my search could yield was a 2014 report which showed Barkha Dutt, Shekhar Gupta, Seema Chisti, Kumar Ketkar among others as its working committee members. And oh yes, Mrinal Pande as its specially invited member.
Indian Express quotes Editors’ Guild extensively and the latter is shown using grave words such as “booked” and “penalized” and “persecuted” when its just an FIR (converted too) and doesn’t name anyone as “accused.” Given the gravitas of this jury if it still happens to be around, you would believe the basic understanding of IPC is not beyond them. Surely, I do trust my washerman to come out with flying colours if he was subjected to such a test.
Such distinguished people ought to ask Indian Express–and themselves—whether betraying paying readers with fake news, and mounting a campaign in its support, amount to “cheating or loot” under the Indian Penal Code.
You also have Indian Women’s Press Corps in protest. Before you express your surprise at what’s our women journos grouse is in this case, you must be told the Tribune reporter happens to be a woman. Next time issues of “triple talaq” and other such matters flicker in your mind, my advisory is don’t look for the reaction of this august body. You see, women with pen aren’t the same as women under burqa.
And oh yes, there is Amnesty International too (Sorry folks, there was no prize for guessing). An important tycoon of “human rights industry.” An organization which is openly accused of being a “servant of US Warmongering Foreign Policy”, a ‘soft-power” of post-War colonialism, is outraged at the UIDAI move to protect its shed.
Let me share a fact-sharing website, Mental Floss, to bring a few truths on Amnesty International to light. The organization was inspired by the arrest of two Portuguese students in 1960 which may never have happened! This very organization had accused Nelson Mandela of promoting violence and didn’t campaign for his release in 1963-64. It concedes it takes money from governments “in some cases.”