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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Regional media

Brave acts that created a ripple in various parts of the country


Tags : regional media | print journalism | |


M. Dhaliwal

PunjabManjit Dhaliwal had a passion for journalism since his college days. After his formal education, he joined Punjabi daily Nawan Zamana in 2005 as a correspondent from Rampura Phull. He later joined another Punjabi daily Desh Sewak. At present he is working with a rapidly growing Punjabi newspaper Rozana Spokesman. He was the first one to report about the illegal colonies being constructed by the land mafia in his area. Manjit plans to do more investigative stories in the future.

Within two days of declaration of the assembly elections results on March 6, the land mafia became super active in Punjab. Manjit Dhaliwal wrote a story exposing the activities of the land mafia in Rampura Phul, a small town near Bathinda. Acting on the report,the Punjab Urban and Development Authority (PUDA) has planned to put up boards in five illegal colonies in the city. The colonizers purchased three acres of land on the Maur link road and started selling plots illegally. The selling of plots started on March 9. This was not an isolated case.The colonizers were just acting as brokers, since the land in question is actually registered in the name of the farmers, the original owers. It is being promised that the registration deeds would be completed by September 30. Though the land is in the name of the farmers, maps of the colonies have been prepared with streets etc. The gullible buyers are being assured that these streets would be made pucca. Plots are being sold at three different rates and 30 per cent of the amount is to be deposited with the colonizers in advance. One person cannot register more than three deeds in a year but in this case, the norms are being flouted in connivance with the authorities. Plots for shops are being sold on the Barnala road. Residential plots are also being sold on the Gandhi Road. The registration fee is also being evaded in these deals.

Arjun Raghunath Assistant Editor, Bartaman

Arjun Raghunath, 35, belongs to Thiruvananthapuram. He studied in Mar Ivanios College and Institute of Journalism, Thiruvananthapuram Press Club. He began his career in journalism in 2001 as regular contributor to some business publications, news portals besides assisting leading freelance journalist TK Devasia. He joined The New Indian Express in May 2003 as a reporter and served for eight years before moving to Deccan Chronicle in May 2011 as principal correspondent from Thiruvananthapuram. He is the son of veteran journalist late N Raghunathan, who was with Kerala Kaumudi. 
Political leadership often is inflicted with the convenient syndrome, ‘selective amnesia’. Exposing the truth hence becomes the duty of a vigilant scribe. Arjun Raghunath did exactly that. A report from Delhi said (quoting Home Minister P Chidambaram) that PJ Thomas, the then Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), was exonerated in the Palmolein import case. Arjun crosschecked with his sources in the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau as well as the court and got the clarification that Thomas was still an accused in the case. He managed to get a copy of the FIR and the charge-sheet. The story appeared on page one on September 9, 2010 with the title Hands of new CVC `oily’. The next day, he did a follow-up that appeared with the title CVC is on bail in a corruption case. The reports were subsequently followed-up by the national media. The Supreme Court in March 2011 quashed the appointment of PJ Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner.On a public interest litigation, the HPC recommendation was going to come under the Supreme Court scanner. Thomas moved the Delhi High Court for a stay on the appointment of the new CVC and urged President Pratibha Patil to wait for the decision before the new CVC is appointed. Patil however did not consider the petition. “After doing the story, I faced criticism from various quarters that I was unnecessarily targeting a genuine officer. Personally, I would not question Thomas’s integrity as an IAS officer. But, my only purpose was to avoid a precedent of an officer facing a corruption charge being appointed as CVC which is considered to be the highest authority of the anti-corruption machinery of the nation. Thomas may be an officer of high integrity and might have been a victim of undue delay in our judicial system. However, had Thomas been allowed to continue in the post, tomorrow any corrupt officer could stake claim for the CVC post citing this precedent,’’ Arjun Raghunath told TSI.

Shailendra Chauhan
Senior Correspondent, Patrika, Indore
Shailendra Chauhan’s seven-year-old journalistic career goes back to his days in college when he started writing for “Swadesh” newspaper. It was a choice determined in some measure by Chauhan’s father who was a public relations officer in the Indore municipal corporation. Chauhan has worked with Navbharat and the evening daily of the Rajasthan Patrika group, News Today. In News Today, he exposed the god man Asharam Bapu for illegal activities on the ashram premises in Indore and for hiding criminals – stories which created a furore. In recent times, he has written extensively on land mafias in Indore. His work has earned him a lot of repute and he is recognised as a risk taking, fearless journalist.
The land mafia of Indore has drawn support from local politicians and panchayat representatives. Shailendra Chauhan came across one Sanjay Thakre who was a victim of illegal colonies. This led to a series of reports on how land mafia were flouting rules to construct illegitimate colonies. Another local reporter Pawan Singh Rathore, working for the newspaper “People’s Samachar” also began writing on the issue and this gave Chauhan the courage to pursue the matter vigorously. Thakre however was killed for exposing the land mafia and for approaching the court against their activities. Chauhan and Rathore were then threatened with a letter, purportedly stained with the blood of Thakre, to stop their writing or meet the same fate. The letter read: “Take heed from the death of Thakre. He wanted to be a hero. If you do not stop, anything can happen. You know how risky it is to step out of home these days.” Chauhan recalls the incident: “When I received this threat I went ahead and lodged an FIR. This threat did not stop me form writing the truth. My reports have had an impact. For example, in Niponia village the husband of the sarpanch is in jail for being hand in glove with the land mafia. Reports have been registered against more than two dozen builders.” Rathore admitted that for a moment he was terrorised. “We were scared for our safety but we believed in our conviction. Thakre’s killers are now in the police dragnet.”




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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017