Activists and journalists write protest letter to the editor of Deccan Herald regarding false and malicious advertisement


  • July 16, 2021
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Over 100 activists and The Network of Women in Media wrote separate letter to the editor of Deccan Herald regarding an advertisement published by it on 15 July 2021. The activists wrote that the Deccan Herald’s (DH) Visual Connect advertisement on its page is not just factually incorrect, but also in appalling taste. “It is a shame that a newspaper of repute had to resort to making a prize-winning puzzle about a human rights activist, who was incarcerated and abused by a system that is being globally condemned for being draconian. To mock the dead or abuse the living, is not the sign of a civilized person or publication”, they added. The protest letter accused DH of creating misleading perceptions in the public mind which is dangerous for justice, and an extremely irresponsible act by the newspaper. The activists argued DH to withdraw the false and malicious content immediately, and issue an apology for the same.

 

The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) — a country-wide network of media professionals – also wrote to the editor of DH saying that “It was with shock that we opened the Deccan Herald this morning to find on Pg 5 an extremely objectionable advertisement for DH Visual Connect for the purpose of winning vouchers on Amazon or a 43” LED TV. The visuals in the ad, the first of the memorial for the fallen soldiers who fought in the battle of Bhima Koregaon; the second of Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, an accused in the ‘Bhima Koregaon case’; and the third the logo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) encourage the readers of your esteemed paper to literally make connections that do not exist.” NWMI argued DH that “instead of providing the so-called ‘correct answer’ in the designated space in tomorrow’s newspaper, an apology and retraction would send a strong signal of the high traditions to which your esteemed newspaper adheres and to which its readers look forward.”

 

Letter by the Activists

 

The Editor

Deccan Herald

 

Dear Editor,

We would like to draw your attention to the State page (Page 5) of E-Paper/Newspaper, released on 15 July 2021. The Deccan Herald’s (DH) Visual Connect ad on the page is not just factually incorrect, but also in appalling taste. Advertising and holding contests based on falsities is not only indicative of the creator’s prejudice, but also of bad journalism. How did the editorial staff not see the dangerous falsehoods inherent in this advertisement? If this is an oversight, it is indicative of unprofessionalism, and if done deliberately smacks of malicious bias.

 

We are dismayed at the concept of making a game of a person’s death. It is a shame that a newspaper of repute had to resort to making a prize-winning puzzle about a human rights activist, who was incarcerated and abused by a system that is being globally condemned for being draconian. To mock the dead or abuse the living, is not the sign of a civilized person or publication.

 

The clues used are even more shameful. It is a deliberate attempt to vilify Bhima Koregaon and a 200 year old monument, to vilify human rights activist Sudha Bhardwaj, the late Fr. Stan Swamy and the Communists. Point of fact: Neither Sudha Bhardwaj nor the late Fr. Stan have had any affiliation to any Communist party. Moreover, the usage of the Hammer and Sickle image by DH serves to connect every Left symbol with the bogey of ‘Maoism’ as defined by the State, and gives credence to the false allegations of association with banned ‘Maoist’ outfits against Sudha Bhardwaj and the late Fr. Stan Swamy.

 

At a time when there is widespread acknowledgment and critique of misuse of draconian laws by government against human rights workers and dissenters, and there are reports that much of the evidence in the Bhima Koregaon case appears to be planted, it is unconscionable for DH to use the state’s malicious allegations as ‘facts’ to run a contest for commercial gains. DH is supposed to be a house of reputed journalists and researchers, and no one bothered to correct these false linkages, which are apparent to any educated lay person?

 

The timing of the advertisement indicates mal-intent. What exactly was DH trying to achieve by running the advertisement/contest a day prior to the hearing of the Bhima Koregaon case? Does it want its readers to develop a bias against the victims of a flawed and draconian state policy? At a time when the case against Sudha Bhardwaj and others is being decided by the courts, this would add credence to the false narrative around her. This could subliminally influence the readers, jury and others connected with the case. Creating misleading perceptions through the media is dangerous for justice, and an extremely irresponsible act by your newspaper.

 

We demand that you withdraw this false and malicious content immediately, and issue an apology for the same. We would like the apology to be published in the same space in tomorrow’s 16th July’s newspaper in all editions. The published apology should take up the same amount of space and prominence as this visual content.

 

In case there is no apology and withdrawal, we will be left with no option but take the matter to court.

We are,

 

1. Kavita Srivastava PUCL
2. Rushda Siddiqui National Federation of Indian Women
3. Harsh Mander Human rights and peace worker
4. N Venugopal Veekshanam, Hyderabad
5. Ajeet Journalist
6. Komal Srivastava Works with homeless people and in the area of Education and People’s Science
7. Shweta Damle Platform for Social Justice
8. Vivek Sundara Social Activist
9. Arundhati Dhuru NAPM
10. Lara Jesani PUCL
11. Kavita Krishnan AIPWA
12. Koninika Ray National Federation of Indian Women
13. Dolphy Dsouza Police Reforms Watch
14. Uttam Visual artist
15. Aruna Sinha NFIW
16. Salim Hamza Saboowalla Social Activist
17. Nisha Biswas (convenor) Women against sexual violence and state repression (WSS)
18. Feminists in Resistance FIR
19. Anuradha Talwar Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity
20. Priyanshu Academic, Azim Premji University (in personal capacity)
21. Meena Saraswathi Seshu Social Scientist
22. Nandini Nayak Academic
23. Nachiket Udupa Concerned individual
24. Rakhi Sehgal New Delhi
25. Tinku Khanna Social Worker
26. Bittu K Independent
27. Dr Frazer Mascarenhss S. J Academic Administrator and Sociologist
28. Koel Chatterji Feminists In Resistance
29. Apar Gupta Advocate
30. Sharanya Rangmatipadar Adivasi Commune, Koraput, Odissa
31. Rajaraman Independent Researcher
32. Priyanka Shukla Advocate
33. Smita Gupta Economist and Activist
34. Teesta Setalvad Citizens for Justice and Eace
35. Devi IIM Calcutta
36. Sho/Sohini Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, Bihar
37. Madhuri Madhya Pradesh
38. Moutuli Nag Sarkar APDR
39. Bolan Gangopadhyay Freelance journalist
40. Shalini Gera Advocate
41. Sankar Das Association for Protection of Democratic Rights
42. Ammu Abraham Forum Against Oppression of Women
43. Sandhya Gokhale Forum Against Oppression of Women
44. Geeta Seshu Co-Editor, Free Speech Collective
45. Sitaram Shelar Center for promoting Democracy
46. A.J. Jawad Lawyer
47. Aquila Khan Freelancer
48. Sujata Gothoskar Research / Activism
49. Sunil Kumar Mandiwal Dyal Singh College, Delhi University
50. Nagasaila Advocate
51. Hasina khan Bebaak Collective
52. Meena Gopal Mumbai
53. Vani Subramanian Independent Filmmaker
54. Vahida Nainar Independent
55. Hamza Shaikh Student
56. Shadab Astitwa
57. Pamela Philipose Senior Journalist
58. Bilal Khan GBGBA / NAPM
59. Simantini Dhuru Filmmaker and educationist
60. Amita joseph Advocate
61. Devika Advocate
62. Poushali Basak Feminists in Resistance and Forum against Oppression of Women
63. S.S.Vasudevan Lawyer
64. Rosamma Thomas Freelance journalist
65. Dr Sanjay Mangala Gopal National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM)
66. sumita hazarika Lawyer
67. Amrita Johri Satark Nagrik Sangathan
68. Anjali Bhardwaj Satark Nagrik Sangathan
69. Brinelle D’souzaa Academic and activist
70. Ayesha Kidwai Professor, JNU
71. Kamayani Bali Mahabal Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Mumbai
72. Afaque Azad Bharat bachao andolan
73. Kasim Sait Businessman
74. Saheli Women’s Resource Centre Working on women’s issues
75. Vikash NAPM
76. Khan Shamim Bebaak collective
77. Surendra Bhanot RTIFED & HRD
78. Padmaja Shaw Osmania University
79. Sabu George Researcher
80. Rachana Joshi Issar Lawyer
81. Amita joseph Advocate
82. Devika Advocate
83. Poushali Basak Feminists in Resistance and Forum against Oppression of Women
84. Bilal khan GBGBA
85. S.S.Vasudevan Lawyer
86. Rosamma Thomas Freelance journalist
87. Dr Sanjay Mangala Gopal National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM)
88. sumita hazarika Lawyer
89. Bittu K R WSS
90. Brinelle D’souzaa Academic and activist
91. Ayesha Kidwai Professor, JNU
92. Kamayani Bali Mahabal Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Mumbai
93. Afaque Azad Bharat bachao andolan
94. Kasim Sait Businessman
95. Saheli Women’s Resource Centre Working on women’s issues
96. Vikash NAPM
97. Khan Shamim Bebaak collective
98. Surendra Bhanot RTIFED & HRD
99. Padmaja Shaw Osmania University
100. Sabu George Researcher
101. Rachana Joshi Issar Lawyer
102. Amod Shah PhD Researcher

 

Pdf copy of the letter by NWMI

 

NWMI DH Visual Connect Ad 15 July 2021

 

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