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‘I was made to sit right next to one of my harassers’: Republic TV journalist speaks out against media body

The media world has witnessed a tectonic shift in the recent years and Republic TV seems to have become the arch nemesis of the Lutyens club. The animosity has been reflected in various statements. From “student leader” Shehla Rashid singling out Republic TV reporter to Jignesh Mevani the following suit. Ironically, the Left ecosystem continues to hound Republic and treat Arnab Goswami as the pariah that must be quashed while trying their best to live upto North Korean principles of quashing opposing ideology. If one observes carefully, perhaps their only problem with him and his “North Korean” channel is that they refuse to toe the line that the media world has toed for far too long.

Their hate, their blatant hate reached its zenith recently, when they chose to slight a journalist, who was a victim of harassment just because she belonged to a channel they despise. She was made to come face to face with her harasser by the NBSA and then, the NBSA decided that even though video evidence existed, Republic TV must run a full-screen apology to the alleged aggressor, against whom a non-cognisable information report has been lodged with the police, for calling those involved thugs, vulgar etc.

The News and Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), which had an NDTV reporter on the panel as well, seem to have used Shivani to settle scores with Arnab Goswami. They seem to have used Shivani to ensure that Arnab is brought down to his knees. But in this battle, Shivani’s voice, unfortunately, was drowned out.

OpIndia reached out to Shivani Gupta and asked her what she had to say about the NBSA’s order and the hearing, in which we are told, an NDTV reporter allegedly told her that “these things happen in the field”.

Her statement is produced below in full:

“I am highly alarmed and disturbed with both the way the hearing was conducted and the decision thereafter. Firstly, I was made to sit right next to one of my harassers in the hearing, the complainant who was clearly part of the mob attacking and intimidating me. This despite the fact that the panel is aware Republic TV has lodged a police complaint in this regard.

Secondly, his wife was allowed to attend the hearing and speak on his behalf even though she was not present on the spot and had nothing to do with the case. This is the same woman who wrote a blog on a news website the very next day and described so frivolously the actions of the mob. I quote, ‘Roars of Mevani, Kanhaiya Kumar and other young leaders suppressed any cheap thrill the female journalist might have tried to gain from the scene.’ Note the words ‘suppress’ and ‘cheap thrills’.

Would NBSA have allowed my parents too? I am sure my father and mother have a lot to say about the man’s behaviour and the ordeal I had to suffer?

All through the process, the panel seemed less concerned with the act of the complainant and the mob he was clearly a part of and more with the words used by Arnab Goswami to describe them. It is clear he was no innocent bystander. The smirk on his face says it all. He was enjoying it. As I have mentioned earlier and said many times during the hearing, the man heckled me all day and then added to the intimidation when I was surrounded.

What words should rather be used to describe a vulgar, sexist, cheap and perverse bunch of goons? Is the panel now of the view that a reporter can be intimidated just because a leader’s thugs don’t like what she is saying or the channel she comes from? Is this the precedent the news body wants to set?

I think the NBSA has not fully understood the gravity of what they are dealing with. They have effectively turned a harasser into a victim. The man was less uncomfortable with his actions which he even sought to defend in the hearing. He is just uncomfortable because he was caught on tape.

He brought up the heckling of a Republic TV reporter at press club and was clearly emboldened by that kind of behaviour. Now the NBSA has emboldened him and people like him even more.

Republic TV has written to the body and asked for a review. I hope they will see and correct the error in their judgement. Both Arnab and I feel very strongly against condoning and legitimising such spineless mob behaviour and the channel will continue to fight this with its full might”.

The blog written by the wife of A Singh which Shivani Gupta has quoted in her statement is conspicuously missing from the pro-AAP blog Janta Ka Reporter’s website. A downloaded version of the article, however, is in the possession of OpIndia. It is indeed intriguing that many publications like The Print have also relied on the words of a lady who wasn’t present at the scene of the harassment, but other than My Nation, none of the publications have bothered to carry Shivani Gupta’s statement.

What the NBSA has normalised is that the travesty of a woman being harassed can be washed away by the wife of the aggressor, who wasn’t a witness to the scene testifying for him and writing op-eds about how the woman was seeking ‘cheap thrills’. What the NBSA has normalised is that the aggressor can actually take the victim of harassment to task in some quasi-association while police complaints are pending. What the NBSA has normalised is that the rule of law must bend to propaganda. Vendetta, hate, the Lutyens’ control, must reign supreme.

The NBSA had no regard for conflict of interest that posed a grave danger to justice with an NDTV reporter being on the committee. The very NDTV, whose reporters routinely display their absolute disgust for Republic TV and Arnab Goswami.

In this case, propaganda ruled. In this case, a woman, a journalist, was made a pawn to take Arnab Goswami down. What is shocking is the silence of the flag-bearers of women’s rights and freedom of expression.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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