Home Editor's picks How Ravish Kumar and Vinod Dua misled people about ‘martyr status’ to CRPF jawans

How Ravish Kumar and Vinod Dua misled people about ‘martyr status’ to CRPF jawans

Our nation is still grieving from the attack of Feb 14. The proverbial embers of the funeral pyres have not cooled down yet. Somehow Indian liberals seem to be writhing in anger, not because of the loss we have suffered as a nation, but because of the atmosphere of unity and nationalism that it has generated.

Ravish Kumar of NDTV is a man known for many lows. But this may well be his lowest point.

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Translated it means: “You and I may call them [CRPF men] martyrs, but ask the government why they refuse to call them ‘martyrs’? On July 11, 2018, the govt gave an affidavit stating in the  Delhi High Court that the status of ‘martyr’ cannot be given to paramilitary personnel.

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On the face of it, Ravish seems to have a point. Why would the government deny them the status of ‘martyrs’?

So I went to Google to find out what exactly the government means by the word ‘martyr’ and who is given this status. I found this.

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Clear as crystal. According to the government, there is no official designation of ‘martyr’. For anybody. Whether from the regular Armed Forces, the paramilitary forces or anybody else.

The word ‘martyr’ might appear in everyday communication for sure, but there is no official definition on the books anywhere.

This was again clarified by the government in 2017 in response to an RTI request.

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Matter closed. Except for the fact that Ravish Kumar, one of the most well-known faces of NDTV and indeed one of the most well known ‘journalists’ in the country, used misinformation to smear the government on such a sensitive topic after a deadly terror attack.

Not that I am surprised. What more do you expect from NDTV, whose Deputy News Editors are found celebrating the same terror attack with hashtags of “#HowsTheJaish”?

And the NDTV whose senior management responds to such an act by giving the employee two weeks of vacation suspension.

But, Ravish Kumar was also referring to some affidavit in what he wrote, something from July 11, 2018.  What about it? We’ll get to that. First, let me come to Vinod Dua who did a whole Youtube show about the same “issue”.

 

In fact, Vinod Dua read out the entire newspaper report from July 11, 2018, about the government affidavit regarding ‘martyrs’ before he began his diatribe against the government.

So where is this report? It is from the Economic Times. This one:

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At first, the headline appears to support what Vinod Dua and Ravish Kumar said. ‘No martyr status to paramilitary personnel‘, which suggests that such a status of ‘martyr’ actually exists and that paramilitary personnel might be excluded from it.

But on actually reading the Economic Times report beyond the headline, it becomes obvious that the govt affidavit is merely repeating the fact that NO such status exists. For anybody.

Vinod Dua’s case is particularly outrageous because he actually reads out the report on his show. From 2:24 to 2:43, he states in Hindi:

“जो फ़ौज में हैं, Navy में हैं, Air Force में हैं, उनके लिए शहीद, उन लोगों के लिए शहीद शब्द का इस्तेमाल होगा, जो हमारे सैनिक हैं, जो physical casualty जिनकी हुई है, जो जिन्होंने अपनी जान दे दी है और युद्धक्षेत्र में दी है, उनको शहीद माना जायेगा |”

Which translates to: “Those in the Army, Navy or Air Force, the word ‘martyr’ shall be used for them, for those who have been physical casualties and laid their lives down in the field of battle.

So Vinod Dua states that the word ‘martyr’ shall be used to refer to physical casualties from the Army, Navy or Air Force. And he does that while reading the ET report and translating it. Which is puzzling (and shocking), because the ET report does not say anywhere that the govt gives the status of ‘martyr’ to those from the Army, Navy or Air Force!!

So where was Vinod Dua actually reading from when he appeared to be reading the printout of the ET report that he was holding in his hand? Did he deliberately change the meaning of the ET report while translating into Hindi? Only Vinod Dua can tell us.

Even more intriguing is that right after the Hindi sentence that he ended at 2:43, Vinod Dua continues in English, reading the ET report.

The status of ‘martyr’ is not accorded to armed forces personnel who sacrifice their lives on the line of duty and hence cannot be given to the paramilitary forces ”

Did you hear that from the ET report? The status of a martyr is *not* accorded to Armed Forces Personnel who sacrifice their lives and hence cannot be given to paramilitary forces.

However the fact that Vinod Dua contradicted himself in English literally one second after he finished his sentence in Hindi does not bother him one bit. He continues as if nothing happened. As if he didn’t just say two completely opposite things in English and Hindi.

Here, you can see the text of the ET report. It couldn’t be more clear about the fact that the status of ‘martyr’ is not given to *anybody*.

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Our nation is still grieving from the attack of February 14. The proverbial embers of the funeral pyres have not cooled down yet. Somehow Indian liberals seem to be writhing in anger, not because of the loss we have suffered as a nation, but because of the atmosphere of unity and nationalism that it has generated. On top of that, some people went online and exposed many Leftists and Islamists who were celebrating the attack. This made the liberals angrier.

Has the left wing smear factory been pushed into full gear as a reaction to this? Would they go so low as to play propaganda games with a word like ‘martyr’?

Perhaps not surprising in today’s India where prominent newspapers think nothing of publishing cropped and digitally altered versions of sensitive defence-related documents.

The CRPF men who sacrificed their lives in Pulwama will live in our hearts and minds forever as ‘martyrs’.

However, in this country, we need to have a serious rethink about who we refer to as ‘journalists’.

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