In the wake of anti-India slogans raised by some men at JNU campus, controversial journalist Rajdeep Sardesai declared himself an “anti national” in an article, which attracted a lot of debate. While most of his media friends lauded his article purportedly defending the right to dissent, many others questioned his stand and rhetoric.
One of the most popular responses to his article was by filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, incidentally published here at OpIndia.com. And as expected, Rajdeep didn’t bother to respond to that.
It’s a standard operating procedure of some commentators to not to respond to logical and strong rebuttals, but instead respond to some weak responses, which helps them claim victory or play victim. Normally it is done by picking and choosing some abusive message on social media.
Rajdeep follows the same SOP most of the times, but to his credit, this time he decided to respond to a comment made by former journalist S Gurumurthy, who claimed that Rajdeep had praised India’s most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim as a patriot in an old article.
Rajdeep’s admission he is anti national dates back to 1991 when he praised Dawood as a patriot in an article on TOI. Anyone remember?
— S Gurumurthy (@sgurumurthy) February 20, 2016
Gurumurthy later shared the concerned article, which was published in April 1993 in the Times of India after the Mumbai serial blasts.
This article of Rajdeep was in April 1993 when Dawoods name figured in bby blasts. Rajdeep defended him. https://t.co/Owrp8hDj0W
— S Gurumurthy (@sgurumurthy) February 20, 2016
While Gurumurthy had accused Rajdeep of calling Dawood a patriot in the first tweet, later while sharing the article, he just claimed that Rajdeep had “defended” Dawood. One can argue that he went back on the earlier claim.
However, Rajdeep decided to counter the original claim i.e. him calling Dawood a patriot. He published a video response, where he explained that he was just referring to flawed criteria of judging someone as patriotic – for example, supporting India at cricket matches – because on those bases even Dawood would prove to be patriotic.
He claimed that such flawed tests of patriotism were advocated by late Shiv Sena chief Bala Saheb Thackeray.
We decided to examine his claim and we found that Rajdeep is justified in claiming that he never called Dawood Ibrahim a patriot in the 1993 article.
His article was broadly about how Indian Muslims were being maligned just because Dawood Ibrahim – a Muslim – was accused of carrying out the Mumbai serial blasts. The reference to Dawood Ibrahim supporting India in a cricket match appears to be in the same context that he has claimed in his video i.e. to prove that some ‘patriotic tests’ were flawed.
However, talking of “context”, which Rajdeep Sardesai loves to bring in (he had brought a context even when a Hindu activist was murdered last year), Rajdeep is found guilty of painting Dawood as victim, if not a patriot.
He doesn’t say it in as many words in the 1993 article, however, in another article published in the Hindustan Times as recently as in September 2015, this is what he said:
Soon after the 1993 Mumbai blasts, I had raised a controversial question — why had Dawood, who in October 1992 was seen waving the Indian tricolour during an India-Pak cricket match in Sharjah and had offered gifts to the Indian team if they won, been transformed into the man who bombed Mumbai six months later in March 1993? Why had a Dubai-based smuggler become a Karachi-based terrorist? Was the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 the turning point?
Read carefully, it is Rajdeep Sardesai himself providing a context to his own article written in 1993. He doesn’t refer to Dawood supporting India in a cricket match as flawed test of patriotism, but he quotes it virtually as a proof of Dawood being a ‘normal’ (maybe even ‘patriotic’, but we will given him a benefit of doubt) Indian until the demolition of Babri Masjid.
Not just that, Rajdeep virtually argues that this ‘normal’ Dawood, who was just a smuggler (as if being a smuggler is any lesser crime against national security), was most probably turned into a terrorist due to Babri Masjid demolition.
Poor Dawood Ibrahim, who was just a nice smuggler, got radicalized and became a terrorist due to demolition of Babri Masjid!
The fact is – the aforementioned paragraph from the 2015 article is far more sympathetic to Dawood than Rajdeep’s 1993 article, which he has defended in his video response.
If Rajdeep is not guilty of declaring Dawood a patriot, he is surely guilty of giving a context to Dawood’s terrorism. He virtually paints India’s most wanted terrorist as a victim of politics around Babri Masjid.
Mr. Gurumurthy can indeed accuse Rajdeep of “defending” Dawood, but that accusation can’t be based on his 1993 article. If Rajdeep really needs to explain any article, he should explain the aforementioned paragraph of his 2015 article.
Let’s see if Mr. Sardesai posts another video.