Saturday, November 28, 2020
Home Variety Books Book reveals that Army was spooked by Barkha Dutt’s reporting in Kargil

Book reveals that Army was spooked by Barkha Dutt’s reporting in Kargil

An army jawan has died after a journalist decided to conduct a “sting operation” that allegedly compromised his identity. The unfortunate incident has once again thrown up the issue of shoddy journalism vs safety of security forces for debate. And when you talk about “shoddy journalism”, you think of Barkha Dutt.

“Shoddy Journalism” was the title of a blog post written by a blogger named Chyetanya Kunte during the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008. In his post, Kunte criticised the media, especially controversial journalist Barkha Dutt, who was then with NDTV. Subsequently, Kunte received a legal notice, and he proceeded to delete the blog post and issue an apology to Barkha Dutt and NDTV.

The apology and the original blog post content are available at this page released by the WikiLeaks.

The blog post basically argued that the live telecast and live commentary by the media and the journalists, especially by Barkha Dutt, during the counter terror operations was completely irresponsible as it only seemed to help the terrorists and their handlers.

Around 3.5 years after Kunte was bullied into tendering an apology, the Supreme Court of India made similar scathing comments about media’s role and reporting during the Mumbai terror attacks.

However, Barkha Dutt insists that the blog was defamatory in nature, especially because it contained a reference to the Kargil war, where Barkha is accused to have caused casualties on the Indian side as she gave away military locations in her broadcast. Kunte referred to this accusation based on a Wikipedia entry, which honestly was unfair to Barkha. Wikipedia can’t be treated as a primary source, though it is a wonderful repository of secondary sources. One has to double check the citations (sources) when reading up a Wikipedia entry.

However, there is another source, which can’t be just rejected by Barkha as made up claims by “trolls”, which shows that Barkha Dut’s reporting during the Kargil war irresponsible at least on one occasion.

This source is a book titled “Kargil: Turning the Tide” written by Lt Gen Mohinder Puri. A paragraph from this book is revealing, and the same was pointed out by a Twitter user Nikhil Sharma to Barkha Dutt, to support his claim that Barkha’s TV journalism has been irresponsible:

Here is the relevant part from the book (emphasis added):

The sight of the artillery rounds falling on the objective made an awesome scene which remains etched in my memory till date. It has started raining lightly by the time I reached the ops room of HQ 192 Mtn Bde, and as the night progressed, the rain fell heavily and all our thoughts were for the men going in for the attack. At Tiger Hill it was snowing.

At about 2120 hours, the exchange operator gave a ring in the ops room asking for me. The Corps Cdr had wanted to speak to me urgently. When the call got connected, all in the ops room could make out that something serious was being discussed between us. On finishing, I looked at Col SVE David, Deputy Cdr of 56 Mtn Bde, who was also present, and asked him to find out if Barkha Dutt of NDTV, then Star Plus/News Channel, was anywhere in the vicinity or amongst the media witnessing the artillery fire on Tiger Hill.

We soon discovered that the young lady was giving a live commentary on the attack on Tiger Hill sitting right next to brigade traffic check post in Drass. I met her and after a few words of advice from me, she was told to proceed to an underground room and rest for the night. So much for secrecy of an operation! I had only informed the Corps Cdr of the date of the operation and he in turn for reasons of secrecy had not even informed the Army Cdr. Hence the surprise and concern over Barkha’s reporting.

From the above, it’s clear that Barkha Dutt’s reporting did spook the Army at least once during the Kargil war. Let us clarify again that this does not prove that Barkha’s reporting caused casualties on the Indian side, however, her reporting was a “concern” for the Army, so much so that a senior army officer had to be called up and asked to take the matter seriously. Her reporting was threatening to hurt the secrecy of the operations, the book hints at that.

Incidentally, Barkha Dutt was present when this book was launched in December 2015. For “obvious” reasons, neither Lt Gen Puri nor anyone in the media pointed out to this part of the book. Instead, Lt Gen Puri lauded the media and Barkha Dutt for “bringing the war into our living rooms”. Even in the same book, Lt Gen Puri acknowledges that barring the aforementioned incident, Barkha’s reporting was excellent.

War reporting is never easy. It involves risks to one’s own security as well as it requires having the sound judgment to assess what information could be too sensitive to broadcast. Kargil war experience should have made Barkha mature about these aspects. After Lt Gen Puri had a word that night about her, she should have learnt the importance of secrecy of an operation and how a “live commentary” threatens to compromise that.

Yet, about a decade later, she was accused of doing the same during the Mumbai terror attacks (26/11). And she responded by sending a legal notice and asking the blogger to apologise.

After the Supreme Court too agreed that media’s role during the 26/11 was irresponsible and dangerous, media and Barkha Dutt started singing a different tune. In an interview in 2015, she said:

However on 26/11, I would like to add that there were some unwitting mistakes made by all of us as journalists. Unwitting. We didn’t calculate that there were handlers monitoring our broadcast in real time, no one from the government told us either.

Seriously? You need government to tell you that after pretty early in your career, a top army official told you what could compromise secrecy and safety during a military operation? How is “broadcast in real time” different from “live commentary” that Lt Gen Puri talks about in his book?

Perhaps Barkha may claim that there were no live TV (OB vans, etc.) and mobile phones during the Kargil war, which is true, but there were Iridium phones (same as the one used by army men) that were used to do live commentary by the media. In interviews like this, Barkha agrees to have used such phones.

In fact, Barkha often claims that using Iridium phones didn’t compromise safety of the army as army too was using those, but the book written by Lt Gen Puri is very clear that the way Barkha used them was a concern for the army at least once.

Furthermore, if a live commentary using limited technology back in 1999 could concern the army, modern technologies by 2008 surely meant media should have been even more careful in their live telecast. A journalist like Barkha Dutt shouldn’t need some babu in government tell her that after years of experience. But Barkha chooses to put the onus on government for 26/11 while insisting that her Kargil reporting was spotless.

Maybe Barkha Dutt needs another court judgment after which she will accept that she did commit some mistakes during the Kargil war, just like she accepted mistakes by media after Supreme Court broadly agreed with what Kunte had written. Till then, journalism will continue to mean ‘never having to admit that you could be wrong’.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

Related Articles

Trending now

Indo-Canadian politician Gurratan Singh, brother of Khalistani supporter Jagmeet Singh, scare-mongers about farm bills

In a shoddy attempt to internationalise India's internal matter, an Indo-Canadian politician, Gurratan Singh, raked up the ongoing 'farmers' protest in Canada

Who is the man in farmer protest video, lying about ‘govt snatching farmland’: Profile of an actor and Khalistan supporter

Khalistan supporter Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu has been seen spreading the lie that govt will snatch farmer's land using the new farm laws

Door-to-door campaign luring Sikhs, grant of $1 million to protesting farmers, pro-Khalistan slogans now: SFJ tentacles analysed

The farmer protest started in September, and in that month itself, Khalistan org SFJ had started spreading its tentacles

Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, Vikram Chandra, others barred from capital market for insider trading of NDTV shares: Read details

NDTV Promoters & senior executives had done insider trading by trading in NDTV shares while holding unpublished price sensitive information

Financial assistance for marriage, free cars, development of mosques and dargahs: Telangana spends Rs 5,600 cr in 6 yrs on ‘minorities’

Telangana government in the state has so far spent a whopping Rs 5,639.44 crore in the last 6 years for sake of minority appeasement

The truth about the viral picture, shared by Rahul Gandhi, where police can be seen ‘beating up’ an old farmer

Congress leaders share cunningly edited version of a video to allege brute force is being used by security officials to quell the 'farmer' protest

Recently Popular

Odisha: Largest ever vigilance raid in state unearths massive wealth gathered by IFS officer, fancy cars, ultra-luxurious lifestyle

Pathak's family reportedly owns a lavish apartment in Bhubaneswar with Italian marble flooring, ivory furnitures and other luxuries. The son is engaged to an MLA's daughter.

‘Indira thok di…Modi ki chhati mein’, ‘Imran Khan dost’: Congress plays a dangerous game as ‘farmer’ protest turns into show of strength for Khalistanis

Farmer protest along Punjab-Haryana border have seen participation from Khalistanis, even as Congress lends support to them

Who is the man in farmer protest video, lying about ‘govt snatching farmland’: Profile of an actor and Khalistan supporter

Khalistan supporter Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu has been seen spreading the lie that govt will snatch farmer's land using the new farm laws

Netizens call to Boycott tax evasion accused Amrapali Jewels after it pitches Swara Bhasker as its brand ambassador, Amrapali deletes tweet

The official Twitter account of Amrapali Jewels had posted a tweet with a picture of actor Swara Bhasker endorsing its products

Abetment to suicide charge not established in FIR: Massive victory for Arnab Goswami as SC delivers scathing statements

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee stated that the FIR by Maharashtra government does not establish the charges of abetment of suicide against Arnab Goswami.

The truth about the viral picture, shared by Rahul Gandhi, where police can be seen ‘beating up’ an old farmer

Congress leaders share cunningly edited version of a video to allege brute force is being used by security officials to quell the 'farmer' protest

Wife of late Wajid Khan writes on her sufferings in an inter-faith marriage, says anti-conversion law should be nationalised

Wife of late music composer Wajid Khan wrote how her husband and his family had been forcing her to convert to Islam after their marriage

Chhattisgarh: Five including two women arrested after woman abducted, raped, and sold to multiple buyers in Delhi and Haryana

The woman was offered a drink laced with sedatives before her abduction and trafficking to Delhi and Haryana

After Hindu refugees booed anti-CAA ‘activist’ Medha Patkar, she joins farmer protests in Punjab for legitimacy

Medha Patkar claimed that the farmers agitation was in fact against the 'divide' between the corporates and the toiling masses

Odisha: IFS officer Abhay Pathak who had taken 20 chartered flights during lockdown arrested in disproportionate asset case, suspended

During the raid at house of Abhay Pathak, the Vigilance department had found evidence of cash deposits of Rs 9.4 crore in bank accounts

Terror in the name of God: Are Islamic terrorists ‘cowards’, or are we cowards for not analysing Islam honestly?

The biggest problem in today’s world is terrorism, many political leaders acknowledge, however, they do water down the conversation around it

After Khalistanis, radical Islamic organisation Popular Front of India extends their support to ‘farmer protest’ against ‘fascist law’

PFI has extended its support to the farmer protest, opposing the passing of three farm laws by the Modi government

GHMC polls: After verbal duel over Narsimha Rao, Akbaruddin Owaisi and Telangana BJP president booked

Akbaruddin Owaisi had called for the removal of PV Narsimha Rao and NTR ghat after which BJP state president warned action against AIMIM office in Darusalam

Hawala network worth Rs 1000 crore operated by China unearthed by the Ministry of Home Affairs

Spy agents of China were receiving assistance from deep-rooted Pakistani spy ring to establish their networks in India.

Indo-Canadian politician Gurratan Singh, brother of Khalistani supporter Jagmeet Singh, scare-mongers about farm bills

In a shoddy attempt to internationalise India's internal matter, an Indo-Canadian politician, Gurratan Singh, raked up the ongoing 'farmers' protest in Canada

‘We are majority here, not minority, because Dalits and Adivasis are not Hindus’: claims AIMIM’s West Bengal ally Peerzada Abbas Siddiqui

Peerzada Abbas Siddiqui had earlier demanded a virus from Allah that could kill 50 crore people in India in one go.

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
490,060FollowersFollow
20,200SubscribersSubscribe