Much has been said about how journalists treat the reportage of defence related issues and especially, situations that pose threat to national security. Recently, we observed the 10th anniversary of the gruesome terrorist attack of 26/11, perhaps the first time that the glaring media insensitivity and irresponsibility came to the fore as the Supreme Court itself came down heavily on the media, for potentially compromising national security.
Now, another incident has come to the fore that exposes how brazenly and irresponsibility the media behaves during times of national crisis and in their handling of national security issues. A Retired Air Marshal, Air Marshal S Y Sarur, has taken to Twitter to narrate an incident during the Kandahar hijacking in 1999.
During this situation of pandemonium and the national security issue, Retired Air Marshal S Y Savur has claimed that Barkha Dutt, the ex-NDTV journalist who now freelances doing videos etc in various portals, threatened to get him, then Air Commodore, fired if she and her team weren’t allowed in the Tech area, which by all means, would have been a sensitive area at the time of the hijacking. Retd Air Marshal S Y Savur was the Air Commodore commanding Air Force station in Palam.
Then she did that 26/11 show. I had retired and was watching “live”, “breaking” etc and wondered where the security guys were because it was more like a real time SITREP (situation report). Only later did caption say that there was a 5 minute delay in broadcast. But, I like….
— Air Mshl S Y Savur (retd) (@veteran10525) November 30, 2018
Indian Airlines Flight 814 commonly known as IC 814 was an Indian Airlines Airbus A300 en route from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal to Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, on Friday, 24 December 1999, when it was hijacked. The hijacking was said to be done by Harkat-ul-Mujahideen active assistance from Pakistan’s ISI.
The hostage crisis lasted for seven days and ended after India agreed to release three terrorists – Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and Maulana Masood Azhar.
Air Marshal Savur’s revelation on Twitter is shocking, to say the least. It is hard to imagine a journalist holding the power to threaten and air commodore to let her enter a sensitive area with impunity.
Update: After the publication of this report, Retd Air Marshal Savur deleted his tweets. He, however, did not deny or retract his statements. The same can be confirmed from his response to Barkha Dutt below:
Editor’s Note: Any commentary or tone in this article is of OpIndia editorial desk alone, and not of Mr Savur.