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Monday, August 8, 2022

"We don't take pride in telling the truth"


Veteran journalist Carol Andrade, editor of Afternoon Dispatch and Courier, talks to Aditya Raj Kaul about the muzzling of the press and how we ourselves are to blame for it
ADITYA RAJ KAUL | New Delhi, November 24, 2012 15:47
Tags : Carol Andrade | Afternoon Dispatch | Asseem Trivedi arrest | Azad Maidan violence |

Have there been increasing incidents of muzzling of the press in India by state and non-state actors?
Not overtly but in a furtive and covert way. Everybody knows that it is around, but you do not talk about it. A lot of it is actually is driven by the need to protect yourself.  It also comes from the knowledge that we do not have a free press. We do not have recourse to a lot of higher processes; we cannot expect authorities to protect us. Even our judicial process is against us. Every journalist is afraid of being tied up in the legal process. Automatically, you censor yourself. Government would muzzle us less than the non-state actors (corporates, underworld et al).  Money talks louder than anything else.

How did you react to the Aazad Maidan violence in Mumbai?
I think the police were caught unawares themselves. The suddenness of the attack and the sheer irrationality surprised everyone. It was a failure of intelligence, not the police. We are so used to it by now that we are not even surprised about it. A lot of us know what happened to those police women at Aazad Maidan, for instance and nobody is talking about it. Even the press is silent. It’s probably because we cannot get confirmation about it. Police could not do much to protect the media. What was shocking was the people who attacked the media actually knew that they were attacking cameramen; they would have somewhere in their minds known that they would not get away with this! It was just that they were in such huge numbers that they might have thought they would.

Was it foolishness on part of the government to arrest cartoonist Aseem Trivedi?
It was plain foolishness. I think it was a kneejerk reaction. There were calls for his arrest and they simply went out and did it. After that, the easiest thing in the world was to slap a sedition case against him, which is such an outdated thing that it has lost all relevance to what is happening in this country. How many cases of sedition have ever been probed? It is an 1816 law which was brought in to protect rulers from the natives. Those cartoons were stupid. They are badly drawn too. His perception of the parliament as a toilet was childish. It was distasteful toilet humour. I cannot imagine RK Laxman indulging in this kind of a thing. The media made a hero out of him and he behaved as a martyr, as if he was the only champion of free expression. The authorities and the media made a mountain out of a molehill.

Have there been efforts to bring in a law to protect the journalists in Maharashtra?
It will not be useful because you may bring in the best laws in the country but it is the implementation where we suffer. It is the execution where we suffer. We have ourselves to blame that we have not stood out as an industry or a profession that prides itself on integrity and telling the truth.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017