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It is only fitting that Barkha Dutt’s last show on Kapil Sibal’s channel was on Kargil War

The way Barkha Dutt covered the Kargil War remains controversial

Barkha Dutt, who is probably the most controversial journalist of India in the last decade, is back in the news after remaining out of the limelight for a couple of years. Yesterday she stormed into the scene with a series of tweets which exposed what is going on inside the channel where she is currently employed, English news channel Tiranga TV.

Barkha Dutt compared Congress leader Kapil Sibal, the owner of the channel, with Vijay Mallya, for firing around 200 employees without paying adequate compensation and then going to London instead of meeting protesting employees. She made several other serious allegations against Kapil Sibal and his wife, who had started the channel just before the elections.

Today Barkha Dutt posted another tweet, saying there is poetry in the fact that her “last” show in the channel is related to the Kargil war, which had transformed her.

It is true that the Kargil war had transformed a young Barkha Dutt into a prominent journalist after her reporting from bunkers of Indian Army became the talk of the nation during the war. Although she said it is poetic that her last show on the channel is on Kargil based on her personal experience, there are more aspects to it that it makes it more poetic.

It is poetic because a deeply personal tribute to Kargil was presented on Tiranga TV, a channel backed by a prominent Congress leader which was launched to help the party in the elections. The Kargil war took place during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, and Congress has always attempted to dissociate itself from it. Congress leaders had famously said that Kargil was BJP’s war, and its victory should be celebrated by NDA parties only.

Initially, the UPA government also did not organise the Kargil Vijay Divas on 26th July, it was organised by armed forces only, although defence minister and prime minister used to attend the celebrations. The government started celebrating it officially from 2010 after BJP MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar had asked for it in Rajya Sabha.

But it does not end here, it is also poetic that the show was hosted by Barkha Dutt. She had reported the Kargil War from the frontlines and brought the war into drawing rooms, but the way she covered it remains controversial. There are allegations that her live reporting of the war may have compromised the position of Indian forces. In fact, a book written by an army officer confirms that the army was indeed spooked at least once due to reporting by Barkha Dutt. There are unconfirmed allegations that she used camera flashlights on Tiger Hill when she was with Indian defence forces, which could have given away the location. Questions were also raised on the iridium satellite phone she had used to cover the war, as its location could be traced by the enemy.

Therefore, it is indeed poetic that a show on Kargil was done a channel backed by a Congress leader, and it was hosted by Barkha Dutt.

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