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A look back at Barkha Dutt’s illustrious career as she reportedly gets ready to launch her own news channel

Reports have emerged that controversial journalist Barkha Dutt is set to launch her own English news channel. Not too long ago, the journalist had quit NDTV and become a columnist for the Washington Post. Barkha Dutt has a history of shoddy journalism and has drawn flak from various quarters for her reportage during the Kargil War and the Mumbai Terror Attacks.

Barkha Dutt had earlier floated an independent venture after quitting NDTV. Her business partner then turned out to be someone who wanted Prime Minister Narendra Modi hanged. He was also someone who was batting for terrorist Afzal Guru.

In another intriguing series of events, Barkha Dutt’s name was removed as the co-founder of The Print after she and Shekhar Gupta excitedly announced their new collaboration.

The harbinger of women’s right had also supported a fellow journalist when she had wondered whether women supporters of Prime Minister Modi “open their legs for Modi”. When confronted, she had feigned ignorance.

She is also known for covertly further the Pakistani narrative. Often, knowingly or unknowingly, Barkha seems to toe the enemy’s narrative more often than not. An earlier article by Nupur J Sharma, Editor of OpIndia had elucidated Pakistan’s break India agenda as discussed in Pakistan’s Senate.

Barkha Dutt has more often than not followed the line that Pakistan wants to peddle. In accordance with the points mentioned, where Pakistan wants the unrest in Kashmir to be blamed on the Armed Forces, Hindutva, BJP and anything other than Islamic Radicalisation, Barkha has written and tweeted to convince her readers.

Veteran journalist Dutt has also built her career reporting Kashmir. One would imagine that she would have a unique perspective on the unrest and also have the courage to call spade a spade. But that clearly isn’t the case. Barkha has proved time and again that she has an agenda and she will stick to it no matter what.

In an interview of Sajjad Lone, she had displayed her agenda subtlely, but rather clearly. In the interview, ex-separatist Lone spoke about how the unrest in Kashmir is fuelled by a handful of people and how the majority of the population wants peace. Barkha prodded Sajjad to concede that it was a ‘mass unrest’, a narrative that Pakistan wants the world to believe.

When Sajjad Lone had proceeded to put the blame of Kashmir’s current unrest specifically on the Congress government and P Chidambaram, Barkha proceeds to defend Chidambaram. In the entire interview, her aim was not to find the truth about Kashmir, but blame to Modi government and exonerate not only Congress but also Pakistan.

As mentioned earlier, Pakistan wants the Kashmir unrest blamed on everything but Islamic radicalisation fuelled by Pakistan. Barkha Dutt was seen toeing that line yet again in her interview of Sajjad Lone.

Barkha Dutt had also painted Burhan Wani, the neutralised Kashmiri terrorist as a “poor headmaster’s son”. In this interview, where Lone blamed the UPA government’s policies for the making of Wani, Barkha Dutt tried to pin the blame on the Indian Army. She also attempted to glorify Wani yet again.

When Lone had blamed Congress for Wani’s making, Barkha had tried to blame the Indian Army. When Sajjad Lone blamed Omar Abdullah, Barkha turned to blame the centre she had just defended a few minutes back in the interview.

Pakistan and vested interests in India have been speaking against Pellet guns for the longest time. When Sajjad Lone mentions that Pellets were introduced in 2010, during the Congress regime, Barkha summarily ignores the comment to put the blame squarely on the Modi government as, of course, anything wrong in the country is to be blamed on “communal sanghis“. Her intentions evident.

Barkha had also tried to paint the Kashmir unrest as a spontaneous uprising. Sajjad Lone, the ex-separatist, had schooled the journalist on how nothing in spontaneous in Kashmir thereby putting the blame on Pakistan and Hurriyat. It is no wonder she was also praised by Hafeez Saeed for her journalism.

The flagbearer of free speech, Barkha Dutt is also in the habit of threatening people with defamation suits when they dare to counter her agenda. There are at least 12 such incidents where Dutt had tried to muzzle voices by threatening people with lawsuits, including Chaitanya Kunte, who was bullied into deleting his blog post about the journalist years ago.

In the past, a journalism student’s career was almost destroyed for shouting anti-Barkha slogans. Barkha Dutt has also been accused of sympathizing with Islamic terrorists in the past and humanizing them to attract sympathy. In 2016, a hacker group called ‘Legion’ had claimed to have hacked her Twitter account along with that of others.

Barkha Dutt is also known to frequently indulge in whataboutery to further her agenda. She had resorted to whataboutery, along with others, when riots had ensued following Ram Rahim’s conviction in a rape case. She had also participated in an attempt to secularize the Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. Miss Dutt has also been slammed by Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel for attacking the minister without having all the facts at hand. Amusingly enough, she has also been accused by Priyanka Chaturvedi, Congress spokesperson, of trying to shield Prime Minister Modi.

The veteran journalist had quit NDTV with much fanfare and her relationship with NDTV has certainly deteriorated after the journalist quit the self-proclaimed news channel. As NDTV’s tax trouble mounted, their former employee was conspicuously absent from the charade of the ‘attack on press freedom’ that was organized by the channel and their sympathizers. Her silence was made conspicuous by her complete silence on the subject on social media as well. Barkha also had a public feud with her former colleague over NDTV using the name ‘Mojo’ for one of its ventures which she claimed was a brand name she had come up with. If that wasn’t enough, Barkha Dutt in a Facebook post claimed that the channel had dropped the story on National Herald and made her delete some parts of her interview with Taslima Nasreen, a vocal critic of Islam. In the same post, she went on to point out that NDTV had gotten loans after Nira Radia had talked about helping NDTV founder Prannoy Roy.

One wonders if Barkha Dutt will attempt to compete directly with Arnab Goswami’s Republic through her reported upcoming news channel. Those who follow the news regularly are well aware that Arnab Goswami and Barkha Dutt do not exactly share an amicable relationship. She had once claimed on Twitter that she was ashamed to be part of the same industry as him. It was in response to Arnab Goswami demanding that those in the media with links to those in Pakistan who plot the destruction of India should be exposed and investigated although he did not name anyone.

Barkha certainly has an illustrious career to show for, however, given the nature of that illustrious career, we aren’t sure if the new channel she is set to start would stray too far from the kind of agenda she has been peddling for the longest time.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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