As the Maharashtra police conducted raids in several cities and arrested five ‘urban Maoists’ media outlets have been on overdrive. Amidst all the debates and news of court appeals, one man was suddenly at the centre of media focus, Tushar Damgude, the man on whose FIR the Maharashtra police had begun the investigation and subsequent crackdown on the alleged urban Naxals.
Damgude is a Marathi writer who has a considerable facebook followers base. Earlier yesterday, a report in firstpost.com shared some details about his Facebook account in which he frequently writes about Shivaji Maharaj, Hindu ideologies and as per the report, against Maoists. India Today TV had yesterday interviewed Damgude in which anchor Rajdeep Sardesai, was bellowing at his colleague Pankaj Khelkar to ask some ‘tough’ questions to Damgude. While Damgude maintained a calm poise and answered all the questions patiently, many social media users have commented that Rajdeep Sardesai’s questioning of Damgude looked biased and motivated.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) August 29, 2018
At the beginning of the interview, while the India Today TV’s journalist Pankaj Khelkar asks Damgude what prompted him to file an FIR, Damgude explains that he had witnessed the Elgar Parishad event and the highly objectionable speeches, pamphlets and literature distributed there was unacceptable to him. He further states that the Bhima-Koregaon memorial event have been held since decades and there never have been such violent incidents. Upon this, Rajdeep screamed over the microphone to ask Damgude that his facebook page has been ‘exposed’ by a writer and how could he (Damgude) term people of left-wing ideology as criminals. Many readers can find this accusation amusing as Damgude’s facebook post has been there for everyone to see and wonder how can anyone be ‘exposed’ by a public social media page.
Sardesai then goes ahead to yell at Damgude on how can he term the arrested people like Navlakha and Sudha Bharadwaj as criminals when they were not even there at the Elgar Parishad event. He even accuses Damgude of running his own agenda as it has been ‘exposed’ from his Facebook page that he has met Sambhaji Bhide and Ekbote. Damgude answered that the Indian constitution gives him the right to meet and share ideas with anyone he wants and his discussion with Bhide has been shared in his Facebook post. He goes ahead to point that so far Sambhaji Bhide has not been found to having links with Al Qaeda or ISIS and his meeting him should not bother anyone. Damgude asserts that he was present in person in the Elgar Parishad on 31st January. At this point, Rajdeep’s loud voice drowns Damgude’s reply again. Rajdeep asks again why he has termed people with just a different ideology as criminals.
Damgude again explains that about 250 different organisations were represented in the Elgar Parishad but his complaint is not against any of them but some specific persons like Sudhir Dhavle and others are people with a suspicious background and some of them have been even convicted by courts as Maoist sympathisers. Rajdeep screamed again on Damgude asking why he did not file an FIR on Bhide and Ekbote and he is accused of practising his own politics, not clarifying who had accused Damgude and on what grounds.
Upon which Damgude replied that the country doesn’t run with one person’s whims and prejudices and he had filed FIR based on what he had seen. he added further that he had never seen Bhide or Ekbote inciting people to cut and kill others.
Rajdeep again went to yell on Damgude that how can he file an FIR on Sudha Bharadwaj, Gonsalves and all as they were not even present there. To this, Damgude replied that even Osama Bin Laden was not present when the WTC towers fell on 9/11. Rajdeep again went ahead to ask does Damgude even know who Sudha Bharadwaj is. Damgude replied that even Osama Bin Laden was an engineer and that does not mean there should be no charges against him.
Rajdeep furthered his attack on Damgude asking why did he file an FIR on these people and does he have any evidence against them. He again brought his Facebook page to accuse him. Upon this, Damgude replied that Rajdeep cannot tell him what to do or what not to do. He added that he is not a CIA or RAW agent as Rajdeep is making it sound like whether the Maharashtra police has evidence against the urban Naxals or not, that will be presented before the court of law, not before Rajdeep. He stated that Rajdeep will not decide whether these people can be criminals or not, it is up to the courts to decide.
Damgude firmly told Sardesai that criminals are convicted based on their crimes, not on their religion and social status. He asked Rajdeep further that does he think Maoists advertise in newspapers before new recruitments. Damgude at that point ignored Rajdeep’s further accusations about his Facebook post and told him that Rajdeep cannot tell him what to post on his Facebook page. He asserted further that going by Rajdeep’s point of view, should a petty criminal only be tried for his crime and another criminal be set free because he is a writer.
Tushar Damgude shows how not to get bullied by self-certified intellectuals! Watch the sanctimonious, sermonising Rajdeep try to shout over the calm, logical arguments put forth by Tushar?. Wasn’t Rajdeep the one who wrote about the patriotism of Dawood? https://t.co/L8pz1RQzVY
— ?✍️? (@DimpleAtra) August 29, 2018
Tushar Damgude slash Rajdeep in a style : “9/11 was executed by Osama but he was not present there, so it doesn’t means Osama is not Guilty” where Rajdeep has nothing except FB post data.. What a shame that a Sr. Media guy has nothing to counter except FB posts. https://t.co/6NBXZq1wqY
— Tanmay Shankar (@Shanktan) August 30, 2018
Damgude’s firm and bold stand against Rajdeep’s accusations has been praised widely on social media. People have applauded his clarity of thought and his confidence in the face of what many claimed was a sheer attempt at bullying by Rajdeep Sardesai.